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Upset bid falls short as Hawks succumb to Rockets, 119-111

Have a night, Trae Young.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks enjoyed a (very) long homestand that stretched across the NBA All-Star break and over three full weeks. On Monday evening, that home stretch finally came to an end with a trip to Houston to take on the Rockets and, in short, it was a 48-minute basketball experience. In the end, the home team held serve but Trae Young and the Hawks put on a show in defeat, falling by a final score of 119-111.

Though the first quarter wasn’t ideal, it did mark the return of Kevin Huerter, who made a quick contribution from beyond the arc after missing two games.

The Rockets would soon take control, however, using an 8-0 run to establish a nine-point lead. Atlanta did bounce back, using a circus three from Young to kickstart an 8-2 response.

The rest of the quarter was dominated by Houston but Dewayne Dedmon did provide a throwback with a running skyhook.

The Rockets stretched their lead to 39-28 by the end of the first quarter and, in general, the Hawks were unable to generate defensive stops. In fact, Houston shot 62 percent from the floor (and 6 of 11 from three) in the first 12 minutes, overcoming a solid offensive effort from the visiting Hawks to build that double-figure advantage.

Though the early portion of the second quarter wasn’t friendly, Omari Spellman did announce his presence with authority.

Still, the Rockets scored 49 points in the first 15 minutes of the game and appeared to be in total control...until they weren’t. Atlanta started to chip away and, in total, Lloyd Pierce’s team put together a 16-3 run to take a 53-52 lead.

Houston didn’t score for more than three and a half minutes and, while Atlanta wasn’t able to pull away, that spurt was enough to bring things to the halftime break in a 60-60 tie. The Hawks didn’t shoot incredibly well (48 percent from the floor) in the second period but they outscored the Rockets by a 32-21 margin on the strength of four offensive rebounds and only one turnover.

By halftime, Young had 18 points (on 5 of 9 shooting) and four assists, with 12 points in support from Kent Bazemore. Still, there was more work to be done and the Hawks continued to be competitive into the third period.

Young was (again) the catalyst, connecting on his fifth three to bring the Hawks within one point after Houston took a small lead.

Later in the quarter, Vince Carter was called for a flagrant foul, giving Houston a bit of extra pep in their step with a quick 5-0 run to take a six-point edge. The Hawks did respond, however, and the team trailed by only three points when a timeout was called at the 2:55 mark of the third quarter.

After that, however, the ball began rolling down the hill a bit, as Houston zoomed to an 8-0 run to take an 11-point lead in short order. By the time the fourth quarter arrived, the Hawks trailed by a 95-85 margin and things looked relatively bleak on the road.

With that said, there was one final push in the offing and it came from Young. The Hawks scored nine straight points to get within one and, even after a Houston push to extend their advantage, Young came back with yet another long-range connection.

Atlanta’s offense then sputtered, though, and the visitors were never close to close the gap to fewer than five minutes in the closing minutes. James Harden was fouled on a three-point attempt, making all three free throws, with less than two minutes to go and, after an empty trip from the Hawks, Clint Capela made a layup that served as the dagger for Houston in preserving the win.

Young was the story of the evening for the Hawks, scoring a career-high 36 points on 12 of 23 shooting and knocking down a career-best eight three-pointers. The rookie guard was masterful throughout the evening on the offensive end (also adding eight assists) and, to put it plainly, Young was the reason that Atlanta was competitive throughout the night.

In support, Collins added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks. In another small victory, Atlanta’s defense snapped Harden’s 32-game streak of scoring 30 points or more (holding him to 28 with the help of 0 of 10 from three) and, in general, it was an encouraging showing from the squad.

Following this brief, one-game trip, the Hawks return home on Wednesday night for a match-up against the Minnesota Timberwolves at State Farm Arena. Stay tuned.