ATLANTA (AP) — Jeff Teague scored 25 points, Al Horford added 18 and the NBA-leading Atlanta Hawks rallied from an 18-point deficit to win their fifth straight game, 104-96 over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
James Harden, the league’s leading scorer, was serving a one-game suspension and did not play for Houston, but the Rockets led for the most of the game until Teague’s 3-pointer with 4:24 remaining put Atlanta up 91-90.
Houston forced a couple of ties in the closing minutes, but never regained the lead.
Jason Terry finished with 21 points in a reserve role and starting forward Terrence Jones had 18 points for Houston, which was attempting to match its season high with a sixth straight victory.
The Rockets led by 18 late in the second quarter and were up nine to begin the fourth, but they unraveled after Paul Millsap blocked Corey Brewer’s layup attempt and Teague hit his big 3 from the left wing to bring the capacity crowd to its feet.
Josh Smith and Donatas Motiejunas each scored 14 points for the Rockets, who had won each of their last three games by five points or fewer.
Millsap had 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. DeMarre Carroll hit a critical late 3 and finished with 11 points.
Corey Brewer started for the first time in 34 games for Houston. He scored eight points, going just 4 for 14 from the field, as he replaced Harden.
Harden is expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday when Houston hosts Southwest Division rival Memphis. He was serving a one-game suspension for kicking four-time MVP LeBron James in the groin during Sunday’s overtime win over Cleveland.
Trailing 59-45 at halftime, Atlanta cut the lead to seven on Millsap’s fast-break layup. Teague and Carroll blocked shots on consecutive Houston possessions before Horford came from behind Jones to pin his layup attempt against the board on a fast-break.
But the Rockets were too quick defensively with their feet for the first 3 1/2 quarters, stepping in Atlanta’s passing lanes and contesting nearly every shot.
Houston jumped out to a 14-point lead late in the first on Brewer’s fast-break dunk on an alley-oop feed from Smith.
Atlanta pulled within two early in the second on Horford’s 20-footer, but the Hawks closed the period by missing 12 of their next 14 field-goal attempts and trailed by 18 at the 1:44 mark on Terrence Jones’ free throw.
Rockets: Fans booed Smith, who grew up in nearby Powder Springs and played his first nine seasons with the Hawks, nearly every time he touched the ball. The jeers were particularly hard after Smith twice hit a 3-pointer, holding both arms up and putting an index finger to his lips to hush his detractors late in the third and early in the fourth quarters. The boos were booming when Smith, considered a talented underachiever during his stay in Atlanta and later in Detroit, missed a straightaway 3 later in the fourth and committed an offensive foul. Smith left the game with 3:10 remaining and didn’t return after Jones replaced him.
Hawks: Atlanta outscored Houston 18-4 on free throws, taking 21 foul shots. Houston took nine. Atlanta’s work on the offensive glass help it outscore the Rockets 17-3 on second-chance points.
Rockets: Host Memphis on Wednesday.
Hawks: Host Cleveland on Friday.
This article was written by George Henry from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.