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Antetokounmpo bounces back, Harden hits milestone

Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points against Portland after coming off a season low of just 13 points against Sacramento © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Thearon W. Henderson

LOS ANGELES, United States, Jan 12Giannis Antetokounmpo rebounded from his season-worst performance to tally 32 points and 17 rebounds as the Milwaukee Buck routed the Portland Trail Blazers 122-101 on Saturday.

Milwaukee, who are on pace to win 70 games, won for the eighth time in the last nine games to improve to 35-6 on the season.

Khris Middleton added 30 points and Eric Bledsoe scored 29 for the Bucks who are hoping to surpass the franchise-best 66-16 mark set by the 1970-71 squad led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Antetokounmpo’s double double on Saturday came one night after he scored a season-low 13 points in a win over the Sacramento Kings.

Damian Lillard scored 26 points and CJ McCollum added 20 as the Trail Blazers lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Carmelo Anthony registered 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Kent Bazemore added 10 points.

Portland played without Hassan Whiteside who missed the contest with the flu.

Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench to score 10 points for Milwaukee, who made 14 of 38 attempts from beyond the arc.

Elsewhere, James Harden paced the Houston attack with a deft shooting touch, finishing with 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists Saturday as the Rockets routed the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves 139-109.

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Harden also nailed a stepback 3-pointer with 6:30 left in the second quarter to record his 20,000th career point, becoming the 45th player in NBA history to reach the milestone.

“It’s a great accomplishment obviously,” he said. “I have a bigger picture and bigger goals, but it’s pretty cool.”

Harden recorded 11 turnovers but the Rockets were able to more than makeup for his ball-handling missteps.

He and Russell Westbrook — who posted 30 points, six rebounds and 10 assists — went a combined 19-of-23 from the free-throw line for the Rockets, who have won 21 of their past 25 meetings with the Timberwolves.

Harden entered the game 10 points away from the milestone and reached it in fitting fashion, on a 3-pointer.

Westbrook said he has a lot of respect for Harden.

“To be able to do that on a very, very high level is something we don’t take for granted,” Westbrook said. “Growing up in L.A. and being able to see him progress over the years to me is just a blessing to see as his friend and I’m truly happy for him.”

The Rockets beat Minnesota despite playing without center Clint Capela (heel) and losing forward P.J. Tucker after he suffered a bruise early in the first quarter.

James Harden made 11 turnovers, all in the first half, but also scored 32 points to lead the Houston Rockets over the Atlanta Hawks 139-109 in front of a crowd of 18,050 at Toyota Center arena © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Kevin C. Cox

Isaiah Hartenstein, starting for Capela, also recorded a double-double of 17 points and 15 rebounds while adding five blocked shots.

Houston’s Ben McLemore, who replaced Danuel House in the starting lineup, and Eric Gordon combined for 30 points.

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Josh Okogie paced seven Timberwolves in double figures with 16 points. Rookie Jarrett Culver added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

The Rockets shot 51.6 percent overall and finished 18 of 45 on 3-pointers.

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