Hawks end Houston drought with 102-95 win
HOUSTON (AP)—The Hawks snapped a 10-game losing streak in Houston, winning here for the first time in almost 11 years.
Maybe Atlanta coach Mike Woodson should get his eyebrows shaved off more often?
Before the game, Woodson reminded his team that the Hawks hadn’t won in Houston in his six seasons as coach. The players took note, while silently wondering what happened to his eyebrows.
“Everybody was thinking it, but they didn’t say it,” Smith said. “Everybody started laughing. He claimed that his barber did it on accident, but I got the inside scoop. His barber told him he should slash them.”
The Hawks found two strips of Velcro, and Woodson was wearing them over his eyes in the locker room before tipoff. The players got a few more chuckles out of it, then got serious once the game started.
Joe Johnson(notes) scored 20 points and Jamal Crawford(notes) added 17 as the Hawks won in Houston for the first time since Feb. 25, 1999. Atlanta won at the Toyota Center for the first time in seven visits, after Smith said Woodson set the perfect tone.
“He didn’t want to come out and put the pressure on us and tell us how much we really needed this game,” Smith said. “He came out with the Velcro eyebrows and it was really funny. It went over well with everybody. I think it loosened the team up.”
The Rockets have three home games left this week, all against teams with winning records—Denver, Portland and Phoenix.
“We just have to get back at it,” Houston coach Rick Adelman said. “I just told them that they’re going to have tough times over the course of the season, and we’re kind of running into that right now.”
The Hawks took control with a 21-3 spurt in the second quarter. Houston missed 11 of its last 12 shots before halftime and trailed 55-44 at the break.
“We just broke down,” Landry said. “Every team in the NBA has times during the game where the opposing team goes on the run. They went on a run and we were really not able to bounce back after that.”
Smith and Marvin Williams(notes) broke free for dunks early in the third quarter as Atlanta stretched the lead to 15. Trevor Ariza(notes) drove for two layups to help Houston close the gap to 77-67 by the start of the fourth.
Kyle Lowry’s(notes) 3-pointer from the wing with 8:11 left—Houston’s first 3 of the second half—cut Atlanta’s lead to 83-76. Mike Bibby(notes) sank a 3-pointer with 6:27 left and Crawford hit two free throws 30 seconds later to restore the Hawks’ double-digit lead.
“That’s definitely a sign of maturity,” Crawford said. “We don’t panic when we take a team’s punch. We withstand whatever run they have, and then try to close the game out.”
The Rockets got within eight before Bibby swished a 3-pointer from the corner with 3:52 left for a 95-84 lead. Landry lost the ball and Al Horford(notes) put back a miss by Crawford, prompting fans to head for the exits.
The Hawks shot 48 percent (39 of 82) and outrebounded Houston 45-41 to win for the eighth time in 10 games.
The Rockets weren’t called for any fouls in the first quarter, although Chuck Hayes(notes) got away with one when he smacked the ball away from Horford with 3:21 left. No whistle sounded, but Horford was cut on his left thumb and went to the locker room for stitches. Horford returned to the bench early in the second quarter with a bandage protecting the injured finger.
NOTES: Horford scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds. … The Rockets dropped to 14-4 in games following a loss this season. … The Hawks’ victory leaves Milwaukee as the only team that’s never won a regular-season game at the Toyota Center, which opened in September 2003. The Rockets beat the Bucks here on Jan. 18, Milwaukee’s 10th straight loss in Houston.