Hawks survive 18-0 run, end six-game skid


ATLANTA (AP) -- The Atlanta Hawks gave up 18 straight points in the third quarter but never let the Rockets take the lead. They then put together a quick run of their own to win for the first time in two weeks.

Jason Terry scored a season-high 33 points as Atlanta snapped a six-game losing streak with an 84-75 victory over Houston on Friday night.

The Hawks improved to 2-6 since coach Terry Stotts replaced Lon Kruger. Shareef Abdur-Rahim added 21 points, and Theo Ratliff had 16 rebounds and four blocks. Leading scorer Glenn Robinson sat out with a sore right elbow.

Atlanta blew all of an 18-point lead in the third quarter, but
recovered in time to avoid a second embarrassing loss to Houston.
Back in December, the Hawks led by 11 at the half but were
outscored 63-33 in the second half.

"I was proud that we withstood their comeback,'' Stotts said. "For a team that's lost games, a team that's been struggling a little bit, to withstand that and still have the wherewithal to come back was very encouraging.''

Eddie Griffin had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Rockets, who
lost for just the second time in six games. Leading scorer Steve
Francis, averaging 23 points coming in, had a miserable night,
scoring 16 on 5-of-18 shooting.

"I missed a lot of open shots,'' Francis said. "The next time
I come to Atlanta, I'm going to set it on fire.''

Yao Ming, making his first appearance in Atlanta, scored nine,
all in the second half. He missed several shots from in close,
including a couple that were blocked by Ratliff, and drew his first
technical foul of the season for taunting.

After Ratliff slammed home a rebound, Yao did the same on the other end and appeared to say something to Ratliff. Referee Tim Donaghy immediately whistled a technical.

"All I did was scream when I dunked it,'' Yao said through an interpreter. "I didn't say anything.''

Ratliff laughed off the exchange, and wondered if Yao had picked up some bad habits from teammates Francis and Cuttino Mobley, two players notorious for their trash talking.

"I told Steve and (Mobley) they were teaching him too much over there, he's going to yell in my face after he dunked the ball,'' Ratliff said. "That was funny, though, I got a kick out of that one.''

The crowd of 17,859 was a season high, although more than 2,000 short of a sellout.

A layup by Mike Wilks gave the Hawks a 49-31 lead early in the second half, but they went nearly 7 minutes without another point. The Rockets ran off 18 straight to tie it.

"Even if they had taken the lead, we were feeling good about ourselves,'' Terry said. "We knew they were going to knock down some shots. In Houston, they knocked down some 3s, and that killed us.

"Here, it was a couple of baskets here, a couple there. We
stayed resilient.''

The Rockets lost the game at the free throw line, making only
13-of-27. The Hawks made 26-of-32.

Houston closed within one early in the fourth quarter on a
3-pointer by Mobley, but Atlanta ran off seven in a row,
highlighted by back-to-back jumpers by Terry.

Yao drew cheers whenever he touched the ball, but he clearly was outplayed by Ratliff. The 6-foot-10 center, 8 inches shorter than his Chinese counterpart, scored only six points but kept Yao out of the paint and off-balance.

"That boy, he is long, and he's got a lot of skills around the
basket,'' Ratliff said. "I just tried to play his strong side, and
make sure I challenged his shot.''

Game notes
Terry's previous high this season was 31. ... After referee
Tony Brown called an off-the-ball foul on Wilks in the first
quarter, Stotts complained that Wilks was being picked on because
he recently came from the National Basketball Developmental League.
"I came from the NBDL, too,'' Brown said, drawing a laugh from
Stotts. ... Houston fell to 1-3 at Philips Arena. ... Francis, an
80 percent shooter from the line, finished 5-of-11.