Atlanta Hawks outlast Houston Rockets, 104-97


The Atlanta Hawks took the floor against the Houston Rockets without Jeff Teague again on Saturday night. Teague has been out for two games in a row now with a hamstring injury, but it didn’t stop the Hawks from laying the wood to Cleveland in his first absence. Atlanta was hoping for a similar road domination against Houston, even though they were a substantial underdog in the game. In the end, the Hawks managed to eek out a 104-97 victory after blowing an early 12-point lead.

In the first quarter, the Hawks came out firing. They posted 32 points in the first period with the help of Kyle Korver posted seven of his own. The defense was solid late in the quarter as well, holding the Rockets to just 26 points, and the Hawks kept Houston from scoring a field goal in the last four minutes of the quarter. So far, so good.

The second quarter saw some very sloppy shooting by both teams, as the Hawks only scored 20 points to Houston’s 14. In fact, it was so bad that Houston only had 5 points in the first eight and a half minutes of the quarter. It’s hard to watch that kind of basketball, but the good news was the Hawks were leading by a 12 point margin at the half. Things couldn’t have gone better. Until the third quarter happened.

On a disaster scale from 1 to 10, with one being accidentally burning the roast in the kitchen, and ten being an all out wildfire across the plains, the third quarter for a Hawks was about a nine. They managed to completely blow their 12-point advantage in twelve minutes. No defense whatsoever as Atlanta let Jason Terry nail two triples in a row, followed by a Nick Johnson three for a huge 9 point swing. If you’re a fan, and you were watching this display, you were clawing at your eyeballs by the end of the quarter. It didn’t seem possible. A game that looked like it was on its way to being a laugher was suddenly a tied affair with just one quarter left.

There are times in a season, especially on the road, where a team has to gut-check itself. When Atlanta gave away that lead, and Jeff Teague sitting on the pine, it was a gut-check moment for this Hawks lineup. A back-and-forth battle ensued as the Hawks took the lead, and the Rockets would whittle away. Again and again both teams would make small trades of points. Both teams were obviously feeling each other out like two prize fighters trying to line up the knock-out blow.

But with six minutes left in the game, everything was still tied. Then with two minutes left it was still tied. With the game coming down the wire, somebody was going to have to make the big play. That man was Kyle Korver, of course. After the Hawks took a two point lead with just over a minute and a half to go, the Hawks drove the floor and kicked it out to a wide-open Korver, who nailed the long three pointer to take a 5 point lead. That would make it all but academic. Houston tried to foul late, but they just couldn’t make up the difference.

Kyle Korver gets the MVP of the night for his late shot, his 22 points, and breaking the record for the most consecutive free throws made by a Hawks player. It was a great night all the way around, and it will only get better when Jeff Teague comes back. Make sure to stay tuned next week when the Atlanta Hawks take on the Mavericks in Dallas. Don’t miss it!