NBA Basketball
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111
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Atlanta 28 32 25 26 111
Houston 39 21 35 24 119
119
5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CTNaN:� , February 25, 2019
Toyota Center, Houston, Texas  Attendance: 18,055

Rockets experiment without Harden, now host Hawks

According to STATS
According to STATS

Atlanta Hawks at Houston Rockets

  1. Atlanta has made at least 10 three-pointers in 14 straight games, tied with the Wizards for the second-longest active streak in the NBA. Only Houston (33 straight games) has a longer active streak of making at least 10 three-pointers.
  2. After losing eight of their first nine games against the West this season, the Hawks have won seven of their last 11 against Western Conference opponents.
  3. The Rockets won their most recent game against the Warriors, without the services of James Harden, by a score of 118-112. Three players (P.J. Tucker, Kenneth Faried and Chris Paul) recorded double-doubles in the win, the third time Houston has accomplished that feat in a game this season.
  4. Chris Paul dished out a season-high 17 assists to go along with 21 points in the win over Golden State. Since last season, Paul has averaged 21.4 points and 10.4 assists in 13 games without James Harden, compared to averages of 17.0 points and 7.7 assists when Harden plays.
  5. Over his last six games, Trae Young has averaged 20.7 points and 10.2 assists. The only other rookies this millennium to average at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists over any six-game span are Darren Collison with New Orleans in February-March 2010 and Steve Francis with Houston in January 2000.
  6. The Rockets swept the season series against the Hawks in 2017-18 for the first time since 2012-13. Prior to last season, the Hawks had previously won seven straight games against Houston.

James Harden carried a heavy load for such an extended period that it was difficult to predict how the Houston Rockets would play in his absence on Saturday, particularly against the reigning NBA champions and Western Conference-frontrunner Golden State Warriors.

What the Rockets mustered without the NBA's leading scorer was a balanced approach on offense and a dogged defensive effort in their 118-112 win, their third victory in as many games against the Warriors this season.

These regular-season showdowns between West rivals might prove immaterial should they meet again in the playoffs, but the Rockets were able to glean vital tidbits while playing unusual personnel packages, pairings that might prove noteworthy as they continue their stretch drive on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks at Toyota Center.

"I thought we played really well," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Was really glad to see (Kenneth) Faried and Clint (Capela) can play together -- that gave us a nice look. Just a lot of good things."

Fond of innovating with smaller lineups, D'Antoni inserted Faried in the starting lineup with Harden sidelined by a neck strain and flu-like symptoms. That move supersized the Houston frontline with Capela occupying his usual spot at center and P.J. Tucker shifting to small forward to accommodate Faried. That trio combined to corral 35 of the Rockets' 48 rebounds.

With Harden (32 straight performances of 30 or more points) unavailable for the fourth time overall and the first time since Nov. 2, Faried and Tucker posted double-doubles while Eric Gordon and Chris Paul combined for 48 points and 21 assists in the backcourt. The Rockets' lauded depth came through when needed.

"It's good and well but we've got to just keep putting it together," said Paul, whose season-high 17 assists upped his career total past 9,000, making Paul just the eighth player in league history to reach that benchmark. "The guys came here and won without me and then we won without James, but we'd be fooling ourselves to say we can win it all without him. For us, it's about continuing to build."

The Hawks immediately applied the lessons learned from a difficult loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday in their 120-112 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday, executing down the stretch to salvage the finale of a seven-game homestand that encompassed the All-Star break.

Atlanta finished 2-5 during that stretch. Unable to hold on late against the Pistons, the Hawks remained composed against the Suns, responding ably on offense when Phoenix attempted to steer rookie point guard Trae Young off the ball and force others to deliver under duress.

"What we needed was a great finish and in the fourth quarter we got to the free-throw line 21 times, and to me, that's finishing," Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. "We were aggressive, we were moving the basketball, we put pressure (on their defense). They were trying to blitz Trae in a lot of pick-and-rolls and our guys stayed together and that was important for us, especially after (Friday's) loss."

The Hawks improved to 3-5 in the second game of a back-to-back, and their incremental progress this season is obvious. The Rockets will present a unique challenge for Atlanta defensively, but on the heels of two white-knuckle finishes, thoughts of Houston were delayed.

"We have a day off (Sunday)," Pierce said with a grin.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 24, 2019

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