If there was a time to get their first win of the Las Vegas Summer League, the tournament was a good one.
On Wednesday, the No. 24 Milwaukee Bucks (1-3) beat the No. 9 Houston Rockets (2-2), 97-93, in the tournament action opener at Cox Pavilion.
The Bucks jumped out to an early 27-21 lead in the first quarter. Kevin Jones, who played in the French Pro A League last season, scored 8 points with 3 rebounds in his first seven minutes. The team's leading scorer Sean Kilpatrick contributed six points in four minutes off the bench.
The Rockets scored 14 of their points in the paint. DJ Kennedy and Montrezl Harrell tallied six points apiece.
In the second quarter, Bucks first round pick Rashad Vaughn (17th overall) scored seven points while Jones added another six. Glen Rice, who appeared in five games for the Washington Wizards last season, also scored six points for the Rockets, but the Bucks held on to a 51-44 edge at halftime. The Bucks shot 5-for-5 from three-point range in the first half, while the Rocket struggled 1-for-10.
The Bucks remained in control through three quarters, 74-66, in spite of seven points from both Rice and second round pick Harrell.
Then the Rockets fought back. They trailed by as many as 13 points but took a one-point 75-74 lead with 7:40 to play off a Pierria Henry fast break layup. Tied up 88-88 with 2:40 left, the Bucks stretched their lead to six points before a Rice trey cut it to three with 6.7 seconds remaining. The Bucks, though, were able to hold on for a four-point win.
Kilpatrick led all players with 26 points (9-12 FG, 4-6 3PG, 4-7 FT). Vaughn added 23 points (7-17 FG, 3-6 3PG, 6-8 FT) and Jones had a near double-double (20 points, 9 rebounds).
For the Rockets, Alan Williams scored a team-high 17 points (7-11 FG, 8 rebounds). Harrell and Rice both added 16 points.
As the winner of the game, the Bucks will play the #8 Phoenix Suns Thursday at 1:00pm PST. The Rockets will play the loser of the Philadelphia 76ers - Brooklyn Nets game Thursday at 1:30pm PST.
Bucks Jabari Parker, whose rookie season ended due to an ACL injury, was at the game once again.