THE FACTS: Monta Ellis threw up a prayer, and the basketball gods answered.
Ellis finished with 27 points, 13 assists and six steals, and drained an off-balance 27-footer just before the final buzzer to lift the Milwaukee Bucks to a thrilling 110-107 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday at Toyota Center. Ersan Ilyasova added 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Mike Dunleavy chipped in 16 points and six boards for Milwaukee (28-28), which has bounced back from a three-game skid with back-to-back victories.
James Harden led Houston (31-28), which had a five-game home winning streak snapped after squandering a 17-point first-half lead, with 25 points and seven assists but also committed seven of the Rockets' 19 turnovers. Omer Asik scored 16 points and snatched a career-best 22 rebounds, and Chandler Parsons netted 20 points and pulled down five boards.
QUOTABLE: "Thank God it went in. That's all I can say."
-- Monta Ellis on his improbable game-winner
THE STAT: The Bucks have been arguably the most exciting team in the NBA to follow over the last two weeks. Milwaukee's last six games have each been decided by five points or less.
TURNING POINT: With the game knotted at 105-all in the final minute of regulation, Harden was streaking down the court toward a transition layup when Larry Sanders swooped into the picture to swat his shot attempt. After a Sanders put-back on the other end of the court put the Bucks ahead 107-105, Harden earned redemption as he drove toward Sanders and finished over his outstretched arm to tie the game at 107 with 34.7 seconds left. Ellis missed a pull-up jumper and Ilyasova missed a tip-in attempt on Milwaukee's next possession, but Ellis snuck into the picture to claim the second offensive rebound before handing it off to Brandon Jennings. He then attempted to break down the Rockets' defense but failed, so he had no choice but to quickly dish the ball to Ellis before time expired. Ellis provided the heroics from there, launching a stunning game-winning shot off one foot that could eventually determine whether either of these teams earns a playoff berth.
QUOTABLE II: "It was a bad loss. There is no way around it. There is no way we should have lost that game. These are the ones you look back on, and these are the ones that cost you."
-- Chandler Parsons on Houston's latest come-from-ahead defeat
BAD MOVE: The Rockets were simply outworked in crunch time of this defeat, allowing the Bucks to grab at least two offensive rebounds on three of their final four possessions. The last second-chance opportunity Houston allowed proved to be the back-breaker, as Ellis' desperation heave rolled around the rim before finally dropping into the basket.
QUOTABLE III: "Sometimes the basketball gods, they shine down on you. ... A lot of activity around the glass for us at the end of the game kept the ball alive, gave us a couple possessions, and gave us the last shot. Lucky for us, it went in."
-- Bucks coach Jim Boylan
HOT: Ellis has developed a reputation as a player who does not enjoy defending with great intensity, but his last two outings have displayed the exact opposite. Ellis kept his hands active on the defensive end during Milwaukee's two-game Texas swing, collecting a total of 12 steals during the brief road trip.
QUOTABLE IV: "He's all over the floor. ... He's doing everything for us right now. I look at the guy, and I don't know if anyone in the league is playing as hard as he is right now."
-- Jim Boylan on Ellis' relentless effort
NOT: Jennings' offensive slump continued Wednesday as the fourth-year point guard finished with only eight points on 3-for-8 shooting. Jennings, who has averaged only 9.0 points on 33.3 percent (10-for-30) shooting from the field over his last three games, was guilty of poor shot selection, in addition to some lackadaisical passing and defense.
GOOD MOVE: After Milwaukee surged to its largest advantage of the game early in the third period, Rockets coach Kevin McHale went with the small lineup that started the previous two games -- Carlos Delfino, Jeremy Lin, Asik, Harden and Parsons -- to get his offense rolling again. Houston scored on six of its next seven possessions as it regained the lead, recapturing the confidence and rhythm it played with when it began the game shooting 12-for-13 overall.
NOTABLE: Milwaukee's Epke Udoh left during the first half and did not return after suffering a right ankle sprain. The team labeled him as day-to-day moving forward. ... Bucks center Samuel Dalembert was active after serving a one-game suspension Tuesday against Dallas for an unspecified violation of team rules. Dalembert did not play Wednesday, however, and Boylan said he would "like to see [Dalembert] practice a little bit" before the veteran 7-footer will receive more playing time. ... Milwaukee has been outscored in the paint by an average of 61-37 over its last two contests. ... The Bucks' bench outscored the Rockets' reserves 42-23. ... Milwaukee has won two games in a row in Houston after losing in its previous 11 trips to Space City. ... The Rockets have blown a 17-point lead in two consecutive games for the first time in franchise history. ... Houston shot a dismal 64.0 percent (16-for-25) at the free-throw line. ... Rookie forward Thomas Robinson, who made his Rockets debut Wednesday, finished with two points, one rebound and one assist in nearly eight minutes. ... Houston's Donatas Motiejunas netted 13 points to go with career highs of seven rebounds and five assists in his first career start. ... The Rockets fell to 6-20 this season when trailing after three quarters. ... Houston dropped to 4-11 when it connects on fewer 3-point attempts than its opponent. ... Six of the Rockets' next seven games will be against opponents with losing records. ... Harden has poured in at least 20 points in 48 consecutive outings.
UP NEXT: For the Bucks, Saturday vs. Toronto, Monday vs. Utah, Wednesday @ L.A. Clippers. For the Rockets, Friday @ Orlando, Sunday vs. Dallas, Wednesday @ Dallas.