Westbrook, Rockets outlast Giannis, Bucks

ORLANDO: D.J. Wilson #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks grabs the rebound against the Houston Rockets during a game at The Arena at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. – AFP

MIAMI: Russell Westbrook sank four free throws inside the final 28.5 seconds and the Houston Rockets topped the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116 on Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando. Westbrook scored a team-high 31 points while adding eight assists, and his clutch effort at the charity stripe enabled the Rockets (42-24) to outlast the Bucks (54-13) down a back-and-forth closing stretch. Danuel House Jr. converted two free throws with 14 seconds left as the Rockets finished 27 of 31 from the line.

Giannis Antetokounmpo totaled 36 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists for his 15th 30-15-5 game this season while Khris Middleton (27 points, 12 rebounds) and Brook Lopez (23 points, 12 rebounds) posted double-doubles for the Bucks, who posted a 65-36 rebounding advantage and limited the Rockets to 34.4 percent (21 of 61) shooting from behind the 3-point line-yet lost the game.

Milwaukee did commit 22 turnovers-including a bad pass by Antetokounmpo that House picked off prior to his clinching free throws-which the Rockets converted into 30 points in the victory. James Harden offset a poor shooting performance (5 for 14) with seven rebounds, seven assists and a game-high six steals to complement his 24 points. House produced 16 points while Robert Covington chipped in 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Rockets.

Jayson Tatum scored a game-high 34 points and Jaylen Brown added 30 to lead Boston past Portland. Brown scored 22 points in the second half, including a 3-pointer with 32.3 seconds left that stretched Boston’s lead to 125-119. Gordon Hayward added 22 points for Boston, going 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic led Portland with 30 points each. Lillard added a season-high and game-high 16 assists. The Blazers rallied from a 24-point second-half deficit, taking a fourth-quarter lead, but they trailed by three points with three seconds left when Nurkic turned the ball over while attempting a long inbounds pass.

Caris LeVert scored 34 points as host Brooklyn made all the plays down the stretch and recorded a pivotal victory over Washington at HP Field House near Orlando. The Nets (31-35) moved seven games ahead of Washington (24-42) in the Eastern Conference. LeVert helped the Nets close out the game with an 18-10 run over the final five-plus minutes.

Joe Harris added a season-high 27 on 10 of 13 from the field, Jarrett Allen collected 22 points and 15 rebounds while Chris Chiozza contributed 14 as Brooklyn shot 42.2 percent. Thomas Bryant led Washington with 30 points and 13 rebounds. Troy Brown Jr. nearly collected his first triple-double with 22, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Ish Smith added 14 while Robinson contributed 12 as Washington shot 45.5 percent from the floor.

Terrence Ross scored 25 points off the bench, Nikola Vucevic posted a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Orlando cruised past Sacramento in a seeding game. The Magic (32-35) maintained their half-game lead for the Eastern Conference’s No. 7 seed with a commanding performance against the Kings (28-38).

Orlando jumped ahead early, made 18 of 38 3-point shots and grew its lead to as many as 36 points in the third quarter. Harry Giles III led the Kings with 23 points off the bench. The Magic, however, lost forward Jonathan Isaac, who suffered a torn left ACL with 9:19 remaining in the fourth quarter. Isaac, who has started 32 games this season, was averaging 11.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 28.8 minutes in 34 games this season.

DeMar DeRozan hit a pair of free throws with 1 second to play and San Antonio survived to beat Memphis and close in on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The victory allowed San Antonio (29-36) to pull to within two games of the eighth-place Grizzlies in the standings. The Spurs leapfrogged Portland, which lost to Boston on Sunday, into ninth place in the West with six games to play.

The Spurs must hold that spot in the standings and be within four games of Memphis at the end of the seeding games to clinch a spot in the play-in tournament at season’s end. Dejounte Murray scored 21 points and took 10 rebounds to lead a balanced San Antonio attack. Derrick White added 16, DeRozan had 14 points, Lonnie Walker IV and Rudy Gay scored 12 points, and Patty Mills tallied 10 for the Spurs. Ja Morant led Memphis (32-35) with 25 points.

Devin Booker’s 30 points helped Phoenix come back from a 15-point deficit and stun Dallas, which clinched a Western Conference playoff spot when the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies lost earlier in the day. The Suns (28-39) moved to within four games of the eighth playoff spot. Cameron Johnson added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio tallied 20 points and nine rebounds for Phoenix, which is 2-0 in the NBA restart.

A driving layup from Dallas’ Luka Doncic with 39.9 seconds to play cut what was a nine-point Suns’ lead to 117-115. Kristaps Porzingis missed a potential go-ahead 3 with four seconds left, and the Mavericks couldn’t get a shot off before the final buzzer. Doncic led Dallas (40-29) with 40 points and 11 assists, with Porzingis adding 30 points and eight rebounds.- Reuters

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