Horford helps Hawks wear down Rockets

 30 Dec 2015 - 9:57

Horford helps Hawks wear down Rockets
Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) scores during the first half against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. The Hawks defeated the Rockets 121-115. Reuters/Troy Taormina

Los Angeles: The Atlanta Hawks rallied from a 19-point deficit to snap Houston's home win streak, and LeBron James received an early birthday gift as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated Denver on Tuesday night. 

Al Horford and Paul Millsap posted double-doubles and the Hawks rallied to win a Texas-style shootout over the Rockets by a score of 121-115 at Toyota Center in Houston.

Horford finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds while Millsap tallied 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Hawks, who have now won their last four meetings with the Rockets.

Millsap also had a block of Rockets centre Dwight Howard with 11 seconds left on the clock and Atlanta clinging to a 117-115 lead.

"We fought through adversity and got it done," Horford said.

Hawks forward Kent Bazemore added 26 points on five of nine three-point shooting, while guard Jeff Teague finished with 22 points with eight assists in their final game of 2015.

Atlanta overcame another miserable shooting effort from slumping guard Kyle Korver, who missed all 11 of his field-goal attempts. That included a record of zero-for-10 on three-pointers.

Houston led 47-28 early in the second quarter, 71-56 at the half and 98-88 with 10:32 remaining but scored just one field goal following a Howard dunk with just over eight minutes remaining. 

The Hawks ground the Rockets' offence to a halt by intentionally fouling free throw liability Howard down the stretch as the lead dwindled in the final quarter. Howard made just 10-of-18 free throws Tuesday.

Howard matched Horford with 30 points and added 16 rebounds, while Rockets guard James Harden scored 26 points, grabbed 10 boards and dished out eight assists.

"I think we should have stuck with the same game plan we had in the first half," Howard said. 

- King James rolls on -

LeBron James, who will celebrate his 31st birthday on Wednesday, scored 34 points and grabbed six rebounds as the Cavaliers defeated the Nuggets 93-87. 

"It has been a long roll for me but I got a longer roll to keep going. I got to keep pushing the envelope," James said. "Hard work pays off and tonight was an example of that."

Will Barton scored a team high 29 points and Joffrey Lauvergne scored 14 for Denver, who have lost six of their last seven games.

The Cavaliers were playing their fourth game in five nights on this Western Conference road trip. They lost a hard-fought game to Golden State in an NBA finals rematch on Christmas Day before winning the last two.

AFP