Eric Bledsoe scored 23 points, including 16 in a decisive third quarter, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Houston Rockets 108-94 on Tuesday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Milwaukee, which improved to an NBA-best 56-19.

James Harden scored 23 and Chris Paul 19 for Houston, which lost for just the third time in 17 games. Harden shot just 9 of 26, including 1 for 9 from 3-point range with Bledsoe closely guarding him throughout most of the game.

Milwaukee Bucks' Sterling Brown shoots past Houston Rockets' Danuel House Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Milwaukee Bucks’ Sterling Brown shoots past Houston Rockets’ Danuel House Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

After a tightly contested first half, the Bucks grabbed control in the third, sparked by Bledsoe’s clutch shooting. Leading by five at halftime, Milwaukee built a 19-point lead in the third. Bledsoe went 4 of 5 on 3-pointers in the period after missing his only two attempts in the first half. His third-quarter output nearly matched the 18 points scored by Houston.

Milwaukee held the Rockets at bay for most of the final quarter, maintaining a double-digit lead throughout before clearing the bench with about a minute left.

The Rockets jumped out early, building a 10-point first-quarter lead without Harden doing the bulk of the scoring. Danuel House Jr. paced Houston with nine points in the period, making all three of his 3-point attempts. The Bucks struggled in the opening period, shooting just 8 of 25, including 3 for 13 from deep. Khris Middleton missed all six of his shots in the first quarter.

Houston Rockets' Gary Clark and Milwaukee Bucks' Khris Middleton go after a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Houston Rockets’ Gary Clark and Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton go after a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Milwaukee fought back in the second and eventually grabbed the lead. A key sequence came midway through the quarter when, after a basket by Ersan Ilyasova, Bledsoe stole the inbounds pass, scored and then stood face-to-face with Harden under the basket as the crowd roared.

The Bucks led 58-53 at the break, paced by Antetokounmpo’s 13 points and eight rebounds.

Paul scored 14 and Harden 12 in the half for Houston. Harden, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon combined to shoot 1 for 9 from 3-point range over the first two quarters.

Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez shoots between Houston Rockets' Danuel House Jr. and Austin Rivers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Milwaukee Bucks’ Brook Lopez shoots between Houston Rockets’ Danuel House Jr. and Austin Rivers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The Bucks outscored the Rockets 19-0 on fast-break points in the first half.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Gordon started despite dealing with an injured right ankle sustained Sunday. . F/C Kenneth Faried sat out with a sore left knee. .G/F Gerald Green is expected to be out for seven to 10 days with a strained adductor.

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Bucks: G Tony Snell didn’t play due to a left ankle sprain. Snell rolled the ankle Sunday in the second half versus Cleveland. Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said he expects Snell to return for the start of the playoffs. . G Donte DiVincenzo (bilateral heel bursitis), C Pau Gasol (left ankle soreness), G Malcolm Brogdon (right foot plantar fascia) and F Nikola Mirotic (left thumb sprain/fracture) remained out.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo is fouled by Houston Rockets' Danuel House Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is fouled by Houston Rockets’ Danuel House Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Bucks: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.

___

Milwaukee Bucks' Sterling Brown shoots past Houston Rockets' Danuel House Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Milwaukee Bucks’ Sterling Brown shoots past Houston Rockets’ Danuel House Jr. during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Houston Rockets' James Harden loses the ball as he drives during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Houston Rockets’ James Harden loses the ball as he drives during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

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