Rockets-Hawks Preview

The Atlanta Hawks are on the verge of matching their longest
winning streak of the season thanks in large part to Jamal
Crawford’s recent play.

Looking for a sixth straight win overall, the Hawks will try for
an 11th consecutive home victory when they face the struggling
Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

Atlanta (26-14) has played only one game in the last six days,
defeating Toronto 104-101 on Wednesday night – a day after the
Hawks’ home meeting with Milwaukee was postponed due to a winter

Mike Bibby made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 8.2 seconds remaining,
but it was Crawford who earned high praise from teammates for his
season-high 36-point effort.

“He’s a guy who can really heat up and score in bunches and he
did that (Wednesday),” Joe Johnson said of Crawford. “He was
basically unstoppable in the first half. When you’ve got guys like
that coming off the bench, you’re a tough team.”

Last season’s NBA sixth man of the year, Crawford is averaging
27.2 points – 10.6 more than his season mark – in his last six
games while going 19 of 41 from 3-point range (46.3 percent). The
Hawks are 9-3 when he scores at least 20 points.

Johnson, too, has too come up big during his team’s five-game
run, averaging 27.2 points on 52.1 percent shooting from the field.
The Hawks haven’t won six straight since starting the season

Their 10-game home winning streak – in which they’ve defeated
opponents by an average of 11.1 points – is the second-longest
active run in the league behind San Antonio’s 14 in a row.

The overall winning streak has come entirely with Marvin
Williams sidelined due to a back injury. Although Williams has
averaged 20.5 points in his last two games versus Houston, he’s
unlikely to return for this game.

Atlanta had lost three straight to the Rockets before taking the
last three meetings by a combined 12 points.

Despite leading by as many as 16 points in the third quarter
Friday night against New Orleans, the Rockets (17-23) lost 110-105
in overtime as they allowed at least 100 points for a 10th
consecutive game – their longest such stretch since surrendering
100-plus points in 25 straight from March 8-April 24, 1988.

Following a season-best five-game winning streak, Houston finds
itself mired in a 2-8 skid.

“You’ve got to make it not happen,” guard Kyle Lowry said of the
late-game collapse. “You’ve got to take some type of stand and not
let that happen. We went through a good stretch where we were
finishing games very good. But we’re going back through a stretch
where we are finishing games bad.”

Lowry scored a career high-tying 28 points Friday while Kevin
Martin returned after missing two games with a sore right wrist and
finished with 26.

Martin, who ranks 11th in the league with 23.3 points per game,
is averaging 29.5 in his last four games and 28.8 in his last four
versus Atlanta.

The Rockets, though, have struggled from long distance in their
last five games, shooting 30.0 percent from beyond the arc, and
things aren’t about to get any easier against a Hawks team holding
opponents to an NBA-low 32.2 percent from 3-point range.