Rockets 86, Hawks 77
ATLANTA (AP)—Cuttino Mobley took his time getting his offensive game going.
“It was about time,” said Steve Francis, Mobley’s backcourt partner. “He wasn’t doing anything else but playing defense, so we needed some offense from him late, and he really gave it to us.”
Francis led the Rockets with 24 points, and Jim Jackson added 18 to help Houston extend its winning streak to three games.
“We stepped it up when we had to,” Mobley said. “I told the guys just to think positive and happy things can happen.”
The Hawks, who beat Boston 100-96 on Friday night to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, appeared to be poised to make it three in a row until Mobley got hot.
Trailing 66-52 after a pair of free throws by Atlanta’s Shareef Abdur-Rahim with 10:41 left, the Rockets went on a 24-4 run with Mobley scoring 13 points, including three 3s. He capped the run by taking a rebound away from Abdur-Rahim and dribbling the length of the court for a layup and a 76-70 lead with 1:07 left.
“I just tried to be aggressive. They had us down and the momentum was their way, so we just tried to make anything possible happen,” said Mobley.
Mobley was 1-of-6 from the field, including 0-for-3 on 3’s in the first three periods. In less than a seven-minute span in the final quarter the 6-foot-4 guard, was a perfect 3-of-3 on 3s and 4-of-5 overall. He also had a pair of free throws.
“We just lost our groove,” said Atlanta’s Jason Terry, who was only 2-of-11 from the field and had only seven points.
“They smelled blood and jumped on us. We had no answer,” he said.
“With a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, we have to close that game out,” said the Hawks’ Dion Glover. “They stepped up and made the plays.”
Yao Ming, who along with Francis, will start for the West in the NBA All-Star game on Feb. 15, scored only seven points. Yao was 2-of-11 from the field and was not in the game when the Rockets went to a smaller lineup in the final 10 minutes.
The Hawks had their largest lead at 66-52 on a pair of free throws by Abdur-Rahim as Houston went cold from the field, going 11:54 without a basket.
Jim Jackson hit a 3-point basket with 10:06 left in the third period for a 46-43 Rockets’ lead, but Houston didn’t get another until Jackson hit another 3-pointer with 1:48 gone in the fourth period to get Houston within 66-55. The Rockets had six free throws in between baskets.
The Hawks, who trailed by as many as 10 points in the opening quarter, outscored the Rockets 21-12 in the second quarter to take a 41-38 lead at intermission.
Abdur-Rahim had 20 points for the Hawks and Stephen Jackson added 16.
Atlanta G Jacque Vaughn missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle. … This was the first of only two games this season between the two clubs. They will play again in Houston on Feb. 22. … Abdur-Rahim has made 73 of his last 77 free throws, including 6-for-6 against Houston. … The crowdof 19,445 was Atlanta’s fifth sellout of the season.