The Atlanta Hawks are moving on quickly from Monday's 123-104 loss to the Houston Rockets as their road trip continues in New Orleans on Tuesday. Although disappointed with the loss, Atlanta was quick to credit Houston who have proven to be a difficult matchup for the Hawks.
"I have to give credit where credit is due. This team is very hard for us to match up against. The fact is that they do such a phenomenal job off the dribble. We have a hard time defending this team off the dribble. They have four guys the starting lineup that can all make 3s, are all good coming off the dribble."
Defending the three-point line was the death blow for Atlanta as Houston hit 16-29 including 6-8 off the bench for Carlos Delfino. Combine that with unsuccessfully trying to keep James Harden off the free throw line where he was 12-13 and the Hawks were playing catchup for virtually the entire night.
Atlanta actually started the game well and took a 27-26 lead at the end of the first quarter. Things came apart in the second as a barrage of threes put the Hawks in a deep hole. The Rockets outscored Atlanta 38-19 in the second quarter including a 16-0 run that was fueled by four straight three-point baskets by Houston. Compounding things Atlanta shot just 29 percent in the quarter and went from one up to 18 points down at the half.
"We just had a hard time stopping them," Kyle Korver said. "We tried a few different things on defense but they score a lot of points in transition and we didn't get back well enough. They shot the ball extremely well. They made a lot of 3s and stretched us out and the pick-and-roll is even harder to guard. We just gave up too many things."
The Hawks were able to make runs at the Rockets in the second half but those usually ended with another Rockets' three-pointer. Atlanta's reserves led by rookie John Jenkins actually cut the lead to just five points midway through the fourth quarter before Houston's Delfino buried a three and converted a break away layup to stymie the run.
Lou Williams led the Hawks with 21 points and lost for the first time since being inserted into the starting lineup. Al Horford got off to a great start and turned in a solid all-around night with 18 points, 13 rebounds and four assists. Josh Smith returned to action from injury and added 17 points and seven rebounds. All three players sat the entire fourth quarter.
The Hawks are happy to get out of Houston where they have won just twice in the last 21 years. The road trip continues on Tuesday in New Orleans against the Hornets.