With 44 points from Antetokounmpo; Bucks outperform Rockets

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 44 points and became Milwaukee’s career leader in free throws as the Bucks beat the Houston Rockets 125-105 on Saturday.

Antetokounmpo was 8-of-13 from the foul line to increase his total to 3,508 free throws on 4,891 attempts (71.7%).

“It’s a part of my game that I’ve always tried to improve, I’ve always tried to improve,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just being up there … it’s a great feeling.”

The two-time MVP played less than 28 minutes but still had 12 rebounds. Antetokounmpo shot 17 of 21 from the floor, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range.

Antetokounmpo was gone for good with 8:08 remaining and the Bucks up 107-85.

“You’re at a loss for words to describe a player like that,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “I can’t imagine that you guys really have to write. I don’t know how you guys don’t just submit the same article over and over again with the same adjectives and all because you need new ways to describe how your game grows. It’s hard.

“Obviously it is the head of the snake, the engine of everything we do. He just comes out with such a great mindset and approach that it seeps through. It gives us all the energy”

This game kicked off a six-game homestand for the Bucks, who won their season opener 90-88 in Philadelphia last Thursday.

The Rockets were playing one night after a 129-122 home loss against Memphis.

Eric Gordon, who had 17 points against the Grizzlies, did not play Saturday due to what the team described as maintenance of a right groin injury.

Houston was also missing Bruno Fernando, who had left the Grizzlies game with a sore left knee.

Rockets coach Stephen Silas said they were simply resting Gordon instead of having the 33-year-old guard play on consecutive nights. Silas said that he wasn’t sure how long Ferdinand would be gone.

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Jalen Green led the Rockets with 22 points. Kevin Porter Jr. had 18, Kenyon Martin Jr. 14, Jabari Smith Jr. 13 and Tari Eason 11.

The Bucks scored the first 13 points of the game and were never far behind. The Rockets never got the margin below 12 points in the second half.

“The beginning of the game was the game, the hammer that they hit us with from the beginning,” Silas said.

Jrue Holiday, who shot 2-for-15 and scored just six points in the Bucks’ win over the 76ers, topped that scoring output in the first two minutes of Saturday’s game to finish with 19 points and 10 assists.

“It was classic Jrue starting the game on both ends of the floor,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.

Bobby Portis had 13 and Grayson Allen added 11 as the Bucks shot 56.5% from the floor and 51.6% (16-for-31) from 3-point range.

Rockets: Silas said the Rockets might not have a set starting lineup for much of the season. “We’re going to be pretty fluid in terms of who we’re playing, who’s playing well for our group and who’s available,” Silas said before the match.

Bucks: Budenholzer didn’t have the walking boot he wore in Philly. Budenholzer has been recovering after undergoing replacement surgery on his right ankle during the offseason. …

Rookie first-round pick MarJon Beauchamp made his NBA debut, entering the game with just over two minutes remaining. Beauchamp, the 24th overall pick in the draft, had not played against the 76ers. … Lopez had five of the Bucks’ 10 blocks.

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