Hawks-Rockets Preview

The Atlanta Hawks have proven nearly unbeatable over the last three weeks, and their most recent win may have been their most impressive to date.

The Houston Rockets were nowhere near their best last time out.

Atlanta looks to stay hot Saturday night against the Rockets, who try to avoid dropping back-to-back home games for the first time in over a year.

The Hawks (18-7) have won 11 of 12, with their only blemish over that stretch coming in a last-second 100-99 defeat at Orlando last Saturday. They bounced back to beat Chicago two days later, then opened a three-game trek with Wednesday’s stunning 127-98 blowout of star-studded Cleveland.

Atlanta shot 64.5 percent, its highest mark since April 19, 1997, and made a season-high 16 3s on 28 attempts. The Hawks stormed back after trailing 50-38 midway through the second quarter.

Their highest point total of the season came against a Cavaliers team which had been holding opponents to 96.9 per game on its home floor and had won six straight there.

"This is a well-coached team that we played," Cleveland coach David Blatt said. "It reminds you of playing San Antonio, that system. They move the ball and get you in uncomfortable positions."

Shelvin Mack made all six of his 3-point attempts on his way to a season-high 24 points off the bench, and Al Horford scored 20. Dennis Schroder added 10 points and a career-best 10 assists while starting in place of injured point guard Jeff Teague.

"It’s a great team win. You go up and down the roster, different guys contributing at different times. That’s what we’re trying to build, is a team," 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."

Teague, averaging team highs of 16.8 points and 7.0 assists, is uncertain to be available against the Rockets. Horford is averaging 18.7 points over the last six games, up from his season mark of 14.2.

Houston (19-6) had won seven of eight, averaging 108.1 points, before laying an egg in Thursday’s 99-90 loss to New Orleans. James Harden scored 21 points but shot 8 of 23 as the Rockets were limited to 38.4 percent from the floor.

They may have been tired after a 115-111 overtime win at Denver the previous night.

"From the beginning we didn’t have any legs. We just didn’t have it tonight," Harden said. "Tough game. We’re a no excuse team, but we just didn’t have it. It’s one of those days."

The Rockets now try to avoid consecutive home losses for the first time since Nov. 7-9, 2013.

Houston is holding teams to an average of 93.0 points on its own court to rank among the NBA leaders, and added another quality defender Friday by trading for Corey Brewer. The Rockets acquired the veteran swingman, averaging 10.5 points, from Minnesota for Troy Daniels and two future second-round picks.

It’s unclear whether Brewer will be available to face the Hawks.

Dwight Howard, a native of Atlanta, is averaging just 11.8 points in his last five games against his hometown team.

The Hawks had dropped six straight in the series before pulling out an 83-80 home victory Jan. 10 behind 20 points apiece from Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver. Harden scored 25 in that game and is averaging 32.7 in his last three in the series.

The Hawks have dropped 18 of their last 20 road games against the Western Conference dating to March 2013. However, they hung tough in their only such game this season, a 94-92 defeat at San Antonio on Nov. 5.

The Rockets are 6-0 against the East this season, and they’ve won 19 consecutive home games against East opponents.