Since signing with Houston this summer, Dwight Howard has been telling everyone that Terrence Jones had a chance to be a very good player.
Lately, Jones has been making his new teammate look pretty smart.
The former University of Kentucky star had a career-high 36 points and 11 rebounds, and the Rockets led from the start in a 114-104 win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.
"He's been doing an excellent job," Howard said. "He's still growing as a player and he's learning the game at a very fast pace, which is great."
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Jones had 25 points by halftime, matching his previous career-best set on Wednesday, and James Harden added 22 points. The second-year player has averaged 22.3 points in Houston's four games this week.
"I was just trying to offensive rebound and do all the little things I've been doing," said Jones, who had six offensive boards. "It was just coming to me tonight."
Houston led by 17 points before the Bucks got within six points in the third quarter. The Rockets responded with a big run to extend the lead and hold on for the victory.
Brandon Knight scored 26 points with seven assists for the NBA-worst Bucks, who have dropped eight in a row.
Jones received a standing ovation when he grabbed a rebound off a missed three-pointer by O.J. Mayo and dribbled by him with a slick spin move before driving into the lane and finishing with an off-balance layup to push the lead to 112-97 with about 2½ minutes remaining.
"From a physical standpoint he outmuscled us," Milwaukee Coach Larry Drew said of Jones. "We knew we had to slow down Dwight and slow down James Harden and defend those guys at the three-point line, but you don't factor in a guy like that having that type of game."
Howard added 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, Aaron Brooks had 10 points and four assists and Jones also had two blocks, a steal and an assist.
Jones had five dunks in the first half and scored four points in the last 33 seconds of the half, capped by a nifty put back with 1.3 seconds left. He was particularly good in the second quarter when he was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and made seven of his eight free throws for 21 points.
"He's got enough skill that he can put the ball on the floor, he can make shots, he can drive, he can finish, he can pass," Houston Coach Kevin McHale said. "He's a very versatile player and tonight he had it going."
Jones played just 19 games as a rookie last season after being selected out of Kentucky with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft. He has appeared in 39 games this season with 34 starts. The 22-year-old Jones is the second-youngest Rocket to have a 30-point game behind Hakeem Olajuwon.
Bulls agree to send Marquis Teague to Nets
The Chicago Bulls agreed in principle on a trade that will send former Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague to the Brooklyn Nets for forward Tornike Shengelia. The deal could not be finalized because the league office is closed until Tuesday because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Teague has averaged 2.4 points, 1.5 points and 12.7 minutes in 19 games in his second season for the Bulls. The former first-round draft pick has also spent time with the Iowa Energy, the Bulls' D-League affiliate.
The Bulls have been without both of their top point guards, Derrick Rose and Kurt Hinrich, for much of Teague's time with the team, but that didn't lead to much additional playing time for him.
"I'm excited, ready to get a new start," Teague told The Chicago Tribune. "I haven't talked to Brooklyn yet, but I'm ready to get to work."
Teague told the newspaper he valued his time in Chicago.
"I learned a lot, got to play with some great guys," he said. "I appreciate everything the Bulls did for me. At times I played OK and other times I didn't do as much as I should have. I wasn't as aggressive as I know I should've been or can be. I'll learn and grow from that."
Davis tops 20 points in 7th straight game, but Pelicans lose to Warriors
Stephen Curry scored 28 points, David Lee added 22 and the Golden State Warriors sent the New Orleans Pelicans to their eighth straight loss, 97-87.
Anthony Davis had 31 points and 17 rebounds in his seventh straight game with more than 20 points.
“We’re losing, but once again, we’re fighting and we’ve had a lot of guys go down," Davis said. "Jason (Smith) just went down, another key guy going down for us. Other guys are stepping up and we’re fighting and battling and we’re giving ourselves a chance to win. We just didn’t hit a lot of shots in the paint. I think we missed 30 shots in the paint. It happens ... We fought tonight and played hard and I’m proud of the guys.”
Darius Miller added six points in 15 minutes for the Pelicans.
Wall scores 34, but Wizards' can't get above .500
Josh Smith overcame a slow start to score 22 points and Rodney Stuckey added 20 as the Detroit Pistons beat the host Washington Wizards 104-98.
John Wall scored 34 points, including Washington's last 10 over the final six minutes, as the Wizards failed to move past .500 for the first time in more than four years. It was the third time this year they lost at home with a chance to get over the .500 mark.