Rockets bounce back with 123-104 win over Hawks
- Article by: KRISTIE RIEKEN
- Associated Press
- December 31, 2012 - 8:25 PM
HOUSTON - James Harden had 28 points and the Houston Rockets rebounded from their worst loss of the season with a 123-104 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
The Rockets were coming off a 30-point defeat by Oklahoma City and had allowed at least 120 points in their last two games — both losses.
On Monday night they used a 16-0 run in the second quarter to build a big lead and hold on for the win.
Lou Williams had 21 points to lead the Hawks, who saw a four game winning streak snapped with the loss.
Houston was up by 15 points in the fourth quarter before Atlanta used a 12-2 run to cut the lead to 102-97 with about five minutes remaining. Carlos Delfino scored five quick points after that, before a three-point play by Harden extended Houston's lead to 110-97 less than a minute and a half later.
The Rockets had a nice play soon after that when Harden stole the ball from John Jenkins and passed to Marcus Morris, who found Omer Asik on an alley-oop dunk.
Houston coach Kevin McHale had implored his team to take better care of the ball after having 24 turnovers in each of the last two games. He seemed to have gotten through to his young team, as the Rockets had just nine, despite the Hawks entering the game forcing more than 16 a game.
Atlanta led by one point early in the second quarter before Houston used a 16-0 run to take a 46-31 lead 6 1/2 minutes before halftime. The run started with three straight 3-pointers by Houston. Delfino made the first and third ones and Patrick Patterson sunk the second one. But Houston wasn't done with its 3-point barrage, and Tony Douglas ended the run with another 3.
The Hawks missed seven shots in that span as they went more than four minutes without scoring.
Atlanta finally found some offense after that, but the Rockets didn't slow down and had soon extended their lead to 60-40 after a pair of free throws by Harden with about two minutes left in the second quarter.
Harden made a 3-pointer just before halftime to leave Houston up 64-46.
Houston has won five straight over Atlanta, including a 109-102 win earlier this season when Harden had a career-high 45 points. He wasn't as dominant this time, but was still able to extend his career-long streak of games with 20-plus points to 13 games.
Atlanta's Josh Smith scored 17 with seven rebounds in his return after missing a game with a hip injury, and Al Horford had 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Delfino returned from a two-game absence with an illness to score 22 points, with six 3-pointers. Asik added 11 points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets and Jeremy Lin added 16 points with eight assists.
Houston was up by eight with about two minutes left in the third quarter before the Rockets used a 9-0 run to extend the lead to 90-73. Delfino got it going with a 3-pointer and also had a layup in that span.
The Hawks used an 18-8 spurt in the first half of the third quarter to cut Houston's lead to 72-64. Atlanta shook off a second quarter where it shot just 29.2 percent by making three, 3-pointers to start the second half.
NOTES: Atlanta coach Larry Drew said that Devin Harris (sore left foot) and Anthony Morrow (right hip strain) aren't with the team and are both out until the team returns home on Saturday. He said he'd have an update on their status when they get back to Atlanta. ... The Hawks made 12 3-pointers for their franchise-record fourth consecutive game with at least 10 3-pointers.
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