Basketball: Houston Rockets outlast Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks clinch NBA play-off spot

Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets goes up for a shot against the Milwaukee Bucks, on Aug 2, 2020.
Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets goes up for a shot against the Milwaukee Bucks, on Aug 2, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

ORLANDO (REUTERS) - Russell Westbrook sank four free throws inside the final 28.5 seconds and the Houston Rockets topped the Milwaukee Bucks 120-116 on Sunday (Aug 2) 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 had 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.

Milwaukee posted a 65-36 rebounding advantage and limited the Rockets to 34.4 per cent (21 of 61) shooting from behind the three-point line - yet lost the game.

Milwaukee did commit 22 turnovers which the Rockets converted into 30 points in the victory.

James Harden offset a poor shooting performance (five 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.

Devin Booker's 30 points helped the Phoenix Suns come back from a 15-point deficit and stun the play-off-bound Dallas Mavericks 117-115.

The Suns (28-39) moved to within four games of the eighth play-off spot.

The Mavericks still managed to clinch a play-off spot with the current eighth-seed Memphis Grizzlies' loss earlier in the day, but Dallas (40-29) lost their second straight game in Florida.