National Basketball Association
Rockets-Hawks Preview
National Basketball Association

Rockets-Hawks Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 3:37 p.m. ET

The Atlanta Hawks survived for one night without Kent Bazemore, but his absence may not be for long.

Bazemore is listed as probable Saturday night when the Hawks seek a fifth straight win as they host the Houston Rockets.

Atlanta (40-29) held out Bazemore in Thursday's 116-98 victory over Denver due to a bone bruise in his right knee. Tim Hardaway Jr. made his first start in Bazemore's place and scored a season-high 21 points.

Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he did not feel the injury was serious and his club has upgraded Bazemore to probable. Bazemore's return would come at a good time since he had his second-best scoring effort of the season with 26 points in a 121-115 victory at Houston (35-34) on Dec. 29.


Atlanta rallied from 19 points down in that win. Al Horford had 30 points and 14 rebounds in his battle at center against Dwight Howard, who had 30 and 16. James Harden finished with 26 points, 10 boards and eight assists.

Hardaway did not see action in that game as part of a difficult season for the first-year Hawk that has seen him endure two assignments to the Development League.

''It's tough, but at the same time you've got to be ready for any situation,'' he said.

The Hawks have won nine of 11 to take the Southeast Division lead and move into third place in the Eastern Conference. They know they can't take anything for granted with Miami and Charlotte each one-half game behind them.

"It seems like when I look there's very little different between third and 10th," Budenholzer said. "It changes every couple days or five days, one team wins two or three in a row and someone has a tough schedule, a tough back-to-back so there's still quite a few games (left). We just need to keep kind of pressing forward."

The Rockets have struggled all season to resemble the team that won 56 games a season ago. They have held multiple team meetings, with point guard Patrick Beverley calling the latest one Thursday and Houston responding the next night with a 116-111 home win over Minnesota.

Beverley scored a season-high 18 points with a career-high 10 assists.

''He's the fire starter,'' coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of Beverley. ''The guys feed off of his energy, and they feed off of his fight."

Harden had 29 points and matched a career high with 14 assists, marking the fourth time he has had that many this season. Harden is averaging 9.4 assists in a 5-2 stretch for Houston.

"I'm just trying to get my teammates involved," Harden said. "They were really loaded up defensively in the paint so just making the extra pass and guys knocked down shots tonight."

The Rockets are 7-9 in the second half of a back-to-back set despite Harden averaging a league-best 31.3 points in such games.

Houston has not played Josh Smith in the last seven games while claiming he is not injured, although he is not 100 percent healthy. It means the Atlanta area native and former Hawks forward likely won't get the chance to win for the first time in four tries as a visitor against the club he played for from 2004-13.


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