The Rockets were without James Harden and Dwight Howard, but were still deadly enough to nearly take out the Hawks with a barrage of shots in the first three quarters. However, the Hawks rallied behind a hot crowd in the fourth quarter and completed a 18-point comeback to win 104-96.
“Seems like we were constantly trying to dig ourselves out of a hole,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer on his players. “The last one I think we went down 15 with nine or ten minutes left in the quarter and they found a way to make one more run to get over the hump.”
The Hawks came out of the gates extremely sluggish, as Jeff Teague’s lack of attention on the opening tip led to an easy layup for the Rockets instead of the Hawks taking possession. This sloppy play persisted throughout the first quarter, punctuated by nine Atlanta turnovers, which resulted in a 31-22 Rockets lead after 12 minutes of play.
“I didn’t like our focus coming out,” said Budenholzer, who was assessed a technical foul in the first quarter.
The Rockets continued to pile on in the second quarter, with Jason Terry and Terrence Jones combining for 21 points in the period. The Hawks interior defense on Jones was non-existent and Terry kept punishing the out-of-position Hawks by nailing open 3-pointers.
“They were doing a lot of great things offensively,” said Al Horford, who scored 18 points in the game. “It kept us guessing a lot of the time. We prepared for playing against, you know, like James Harden and everything and it kind of changes how you’re going to approach the game.” Continue Reading…