National Basketball Association
Atlanta at Houston
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, December 20, 2014
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
After a very impressive win to begin a challenging three-game road trip, Atlanta meets its next obstacle Saturday in Houston. Playing without leading scorer and assist man Jeff Teague, who sat with a hamstring issue, the Hawks rolled to a 127-98 win at Cleveland on Wednesday, picking up their 11th win in 12 games. Atlanta established a season high from the field by a wide margin by shooting 64.5 percent, including 16-for-28 from 3-point range.
The Hawks came from 12 points down in that victory, while the Rockets went the other way in their 99-90 loss to New Orleans on Thursday, getting outscored 34-22 in the fourth quarter. James Harden, the NBA's leading scorer, was limited to 21 points on 8-of-23 shooting as Houston - the worst-shooting team in the Western Conference - shot 38.4 percent overall. The Rockets, who are 6-0 against the Eastern Conference, reportedly acquired veteran swingman Corey Brewer from Minnesota on Friday in exchange for guard Troy Daniels and two picks, bolstering a bench that has needed support due to the team's many injuries this season.TV:
8 p.m. ET, SportSouth (Atlanta), ROOT Sports Southwest (Houston)ABOUT THE HAWKS (18-7):
One of Atlanta's greatest assets is its depth at point guard with Teague, Dennis Schroder and Shelvin Mack. That was never more evident than in the rout of the Cavaliers, as Schroder stepped into the starting role to provide a career-high 10 assists in 22 minutes and Mack buried all six of his 3-pointers - a personal best - en route to a career-high 24 points. "It's what I'm referencing when I talk about a good team," head coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Somebody's down, we have a lot of confidence in everybody that they can step up and do what we need to win."ABOUT THE ROCKETS (19-6):
Harden was 2-for-7 from beyond the arc against New Orleans, continuing a season-long trend of long-range struggles for him and his mates, who regularly jack up more than their opponents and have ranked first or second in made 3-pointers each of the last three seasons. Harden, a career 36.5 percent shooter from the arc, is down to 32.7 this season, while Trevor Ariza (40.7 last season with Washington, 33.7 in 2014-15) has been a disappointment in that regard. Patrick Beverley is shooting 41.8 for the season but just 36.1 in six games since returning from a calf injury for a team whose overall mark has fallen from 35.8 percent in 2013-14 to 34.1 percent.BUZZER BEATERS
1. Rockets SG Jason Terry is expected back following a two-game absence after his wife gave birth Tuesday.
2. Ariza has played at least 40 minutes in seven straight games and entered Friday ranked second in the NBA with an average of 38.4.
3. Atlanta lost its only road game against a Western Conference opponent Nov. 5 at San Antonio. PREDICTION:
Rockets 105, Hawks 103
Stats and Records