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Hawks yield to Rockets for third straight loss, 121-105

The onslaught (finally) came.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Following a weekend back-to-back to forget, the Atlanta Hawks returned to the friendly confines of State Farm Arena on Tuesday evening. With James Harden, Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets in town, expectations were modest and, though there were signs of life along the way, the home team eventually fell by a final score of 121-105.

The evening began with five straight points from the Rockets but the Hawks quickly put an end to that with a patented alley-oop connection from Trae Young and John Collins.

With the exception of that highlight-worthy play, Atlanta got off to a sluggish start and, while they led by a 10-9 margin in the early going, that was a product of Houston’s own ineffectiveness. Later in the first quarter, though, the Hawks sprang to life with the help of Vince Carter, using a 10-0 run to take the lead.

Carter connected on a third triple in the final seconds to tie the game at 25-25 and his contributions were crucial to keep Atlanta engaged. Later, the Hawks produced another memorable piece of excitement when Young and Kevin Huerter came together on a big-time throw-down.

Aside from that, there wasn’t much to cheer about for the Hawks in the second quarter, as Houston seized control with a 12-1 run to take a double-digit lead. Atlanta did respond by scoring the final five points to climb with a 53-47 halftime score but, in general, the Hawks were probably lucky to emerge with that small of a deficit considering Houston converted on only 4 of 21 three-point offerings.

The beginning portion of the second half was kind to the home team and, eventually, Young and Dewayne Dedmon connected on a pair of threes to give Atlanta a 61-59 lead.

That advantage was short-lived, however, as the Rockets came alive from beyond the three-point arc. Houston began the quarter by making 8 of their first 11 attempts from three-point range and, when the onslaught came to an end, the Rockets (suddenly) led by a 14-point margin after a 22-6 spurt.

The Hawks did manage to finish the third quarter with “only” a 12-point deficit and, when Young connected on a three to begin the fourth quarter, Atlanta inched within single-digits. On cue, however, the Rockets put space between themselves and the Hawks with a 9-3 run and, with only nine minutes remaining, the hosts trailed by 15 points.

From there, the sledding wasn’t any more kind, as the Rockets took a 20-point lead (after a barrage of threes) with only 6:47 remaining. To their credit, the Hawks answered with six straight of their own to bring the score to 104-90 with 5:40 left.

The comeback would not fully materialize, however, and the end result was a 16-point home defeat.

Individually, there were a few bright spots for Atlanta, headlined by Carter, who converted five threes (on only eight attempts) on the way to 15 points. Young added a double-double with 21 points and 12 assists, while Collins was also his typically productive self with 20 points and 10 rebounds. In addition, De’Andre Bembry contributed positively with 14 points and eight rebounds.

The Hawks will enjoy an off day on Wednesday before returning to action at home against the Utah Jazz. Stay tuned.