Huge night for Giannis not enough in sloppy loss to Houston

Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 36 points and 18 rebounds but it wasn’t enough in a 120-116 loss to Houston Sunday night in Orlando.

The Rockets closed the game on a 16-4 run as Milwaukee came up short in its attempt to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight season.

Trailing by one with 14 seconds left, Antetokounmpo had a chance to retake the lead. He drove to the rim and appeared to have a good look at the basket but instead fired a pass intended for Kyle Korver that Houston’s Danuel House intercepted. It was the last of the Bucks 22 turnovers, which was tied for the third-most in a game this season.

Playing without Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton as they work their way back into shape following positive COVID-19 tests in early July, the Bucks struggled to slow the Rockets backcourt of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The All-Star duo combined for 55 points and 15 assists, while Harden also grabbed six steals.

Houston took 61 3-pointers and made 21 of them, as every player hit at least one. That was one off for the most 3-pointers hit by a Bucks opponent this season. The Rockets shot eight more free throws and turned the ball over just nine times.

Milwaukee’s other star — Khris Middleton — had 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Brook Lopez took advantage of a small Houston team to score 23 points and grab 12 boards.

The Bucks still own a 6-game lead on Toronto for the top seed in the East and a 3-game advantage on the Los Angeles Lakers for the top overall record.

Milwaukee will return to action Tuesday afternoon against Brooklyn.