ATLANTA (AP)—After an embarrassing performance three nights before, the Atlanta Hawks wanted to show some backbone at home.
“I don’t want teams to think they can come in here and dominate us,” Antoine Walker said. “We’re still a long way from where we want to be.”
Walker had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the Hawks rallied from an 11-point deficit in the final 6:11 to beat the Houston Rockets 88-84 Tuesday night.
Yao Ming, who had 27 points and 11 rebounds, ended Houston’s 0-for-10 skid from the field with a 5-footer with 18 seconds remaining, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 86-84. But Jon Barry made two free throws to seal the win for the Hawks.
“We just melted down,” Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said. “You’ve got to give them credit, they did a good job of pressuring us.”
Reserve point guard Royal Ivey gave the Hawks a boost in the fourth quarter with a pair of foul shots before stealing a backcourt pass and driving for a layup for Atlanta’s first lead of the game at 83-82. Ivey, a rookie, had 10 points.
“We got some good defensive stops,” Ivey said after playing 26 minutes to starter Kenny Anderson’s 22. “We were down 14 and we never gave up. We stuck to our principles. We fought back and pulled it out. My turn came early tonight.”
Yao hit 13 of 15 shots, and Tracy McGrady scored 21 points, but the Rockets lost for the third time in four games. McGrady, who was despondent over Houston’s late fade, was just 3-for-11 from the field in the second half.
“I think we let our guard down,” McGrady said. “They turned it up another notch and we were just chillin’ out there. We tried to bring our intensity back up and it was too late.”
The Hawks pulled within seven on Josh Childress’ layup with 6:57 remaining, but Juwan Howard answered 22 seconds later with a 10-footer that made it 80-71. After Walker missed a 3-pointer from the left wing, Jim Jackson put the Rockets up by 11 with a fast-break layup.
Houston missed a chance to build its lead back to six when Charlie Ward’s 3-pointer rattled out with 3:40 remaining.
Walker, who has scored at least 20 points in all seven games, drove the left baseline and put back his own miss for an 85-82 lead at the 1:23 mark. He was eager for the announced crowd of 16,595 to see the Hawks end a two-game skid at home. Atlanta lost 103-88 to San Antonio on Saturday night.
“We haven’t given them much to cheer about,” Walker said. “It was a big win for us at home.”
“We slash a lot,” Harrington said, “so we’re going to get a lot of points in the paint.”
The 7-foot-6 Yao had only one offensive rebound in the second half.
“They forced the ball out of Yao’s hand, forced him off the block,” McGrady said. “That made everything tough for us. Down the stretch they wanted it more than we did and they had more intensity.”
Hawks C Jason Collier started but played only eight minutes. Atlanta coach Mike Woodson went with Drobnjak, who is 10 pounds heavier than the 260-pound Collier. … Ward shot just 1-for-6 and missed all five 3-point attempts. … McGrady was 1-for-6 on 3s. … Atlanta outscored the Rockets 12-2 on fast-break points.