Atlanta Defeats Houston 121-115

Joshua Broom —  December 31, 2015

Al Horford scored a season-high 30 points as Atlanta defeated Houston 121-115 for the team’s seventh win in eight games. The Hawks have now won four straight against Houston.

Four Atlanta starters scored 20-plus points, however the Hawks found themselves in rocky waters early. Houston went on a 15-0 run, led by James Harden’s nine, to take a commanding 41-25 lead into the second quarter.

Though trailing most of the contest, the Hawks exhibited a wellspring of resilience in the later stages of play. Behind 71-56 at the half, Atlanta went on a 23-11 run -sparked by Horford’s early seven- to gridlock the score at 82 with 4:30 remaining in the penultimate period of play. Unfazed, the Rockets would respond with a 10-3 run to enter the final stanza ahead 92-85.

The Hawks would hang tough in the fourth to make a dog-fight of matters midway through the final 12. Atlanta would employ the intentional foul strategy to Houston’s Clint Capela (43 percent free-throw) and Dwight Howard (50 percent) to stymie the Rockets’ offensive flow and eventually spark a 9-0 run late to prevail 121-115.

Joining Horford in twin-figures on the night were Kent Bazemore (26), Paul Millsap (22) and Jeff Teague (22). Atlanta needed this massive offensive production from their starters to off-set the slumping performance of Kyle Korver, who was 0-for-11 on the evening. Korver has made just two of his last 27 attempts from the field.

Houston was led by Dwight Howard’s season-best 30 points. Joining Howard in double-digits was Harden (26), Clint Capela (17), Ty Lawson (14) and Trevor Ariza (10). The Rockets turned the ball over 19 times while shooting just 66 percent (26-39) from the foul-line.

With the loss, Houston’s record drops to 16-17.

Meanwhile, Atlanta improves to 21-13 and trails Cleveland by two games in the Eastern Conference standings.

Houston hosts red-hot Golden State on Friday.

The Hawks are off until Sunday, when they resume on-court acquaintances with the New York Knicks from Madison Square Garden.

Joshua Broom