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Comeback bid falls short for Hawks in 122-115 loss to Rockets

Atlanta fought but came up just short.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks hosted James Harden and the Houston Rockets Wednesday night on the heels of a hard-fought loss to the Denver Nuggets Monday night.

Jabari Parker (shoulder) and Bruno Fernando (personal) were not active for Atlanta.

Lloyd Pierce elected to go small for the Houston matchup in the absence of Fernando.

Russell Westbrook (rest) was unavailable for the Rockets.

Houston got out to a 12-4 start behind five points and two assists in the first two minutes from Harden.

The Hawks responded with a 6-0 run to avert an early hole.

The highlights didn’t stop there, as the Hawks tied the score at 12 with an 8-0 run.

The Rockets went on a 18-5 run over the next few minutes, putting the lead at 34-19 with 3:00 left in the first. A quick 5-0 Atlanta spurt cut it back to ten momentarily.

Another 7-0 Houston run put the margin back at 17, with the Rockets leading 45-29 heading to the second quarter. Harden had 22 points, six assists and two rebounds in the opening period. Collins had 11 points on 4-of-4 from the floor in the first for Atlanta.

The Rockets had yet another run waiting for the Hawks in the second, even with Harden on the bench. A 10-4 jolt left them up 55-33 less than three minutes in the quarter. Houston maintained a 20-point lead for the majority of the second, controlling all phases of the game.

The Hawks did mount something of a run late in the second, cutting it to 14 in the final two minutes before the break. Ultimately, the Hawks trailed 77-62 at half as an Allen Crabbe three-pointer beat the second-quarter buzzer.

Harden led all scorers with 29 points to go along with nine assists and five rebounds in the first half of play. Young led Atlanta with 21 points (he scored 10 straight late for the Hawks late in the second) and four assists in the opening half, while Collins added a first-half double-double with 15 points and ten rebounds.

Reddish hit a three to open the second half scoring, cutting the Houston lead back to only 12 points. Young hit a layup to cut it to 79-69 in favor of the Rockets less than two minutes into the third.

A free throw by Young cut the Rocket lead to eight at the 7:39 mark in the third.

A lob from Young to Collins made it an 87-80 game with 4:21 left in the third, then Crabbe hit a three to make it a four point game at the 3:37 mark.

Threes from Harden, Ben McLemore and P.J. Tucker put the Rockets lead back to 96-83 quickly out of a Houston timeout. The run reached 12-2 overall after another McLemore three (his 6th of the game) late in the quarter, giving Houston a 99-85 lead headed to the fourth.

A three from Young cut it back to single digits, as the Hawks made a 6-1 mini run in the first 1:45 of the fourth to give themselves a fighting chance at a comeback.

An and-one lay in from Alex Len cut the Rocket lead back to just five, putting the Hawks latest run at 6-0 as they trailed 108-103 with 6:40 to play in the fourth.

Goodwin went end-to-end for a fast break floater to make it 108-105 in favor of the Rockets inside the five-minute mark.

Some questionable officiating left Atlanta down five with 3:00 to go. Huerter hit a mid-range jumper to get the Hawks within three inside the 2:30 mark before Eric Gordon buried a three to put the Rockets back up six with under two minutes.

From there, the Hawks were unable to close the gap, falling 122-115, though Len did cut it to 118-115 with a pair of free throws with 18.7 remaining.

Young finished with a triple-double, tallying 42 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds in the Hawks loss. Collins had 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in minutes.

Harden finished with 41 points, ten assists and ten rebounds in the win, making he and Young the first players in NBA History to record a 40-point triple-double in the same game. Capela added 22 points and 22 rebounds, while McLemore scored 18 points going 6-for-9 on three-pointers off the bench.

The Hawks will be back in action Friday night when they travel to Washington D.C. for a matchup with the Wizards.