HOUSTON -- The Hawks snapped a 10-game losing streak in
Houston, winning here for the first time in almost 11 years.
Maybe Atlanta coach Mike Woodson should get his eyebrows shaved
off more often?
Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and the
Hawks snapped their worst skid of the season with a 102-95 victory
over the Rockets on Monday night.
Before the game, Woodson reminded his team that the Hawks hadn't
won in Houston in his five seasons as Atlanta's coach. The players
took note, while silently wondering what happened to his eyebrows.
"Everybody was thinking it, but they didn't say it," Smith
said. "Everybody started laughing. He claimed that his barber did
it on accident, but I got the inside scoop. His barber told him he
should slash them."
The Hawks found two strips of Velcro, and Woodson was wearing
them over his eyes in the locker room before tipoff. The players
got a few more chuckles out of it, then got serious once the game
Joe Johnson scored 20 points and Jamal Crawford added 17 as the
Hawks won in Houston for the first time since Feb. 25, 1999.
Atlanta won at the Toyota Center for the first time in seven
visits, after Smith said Woodson set the perfect tone.
"He didn't want to come out and put the pressure on us and tell
us how much we really needed this game," Smith said. "He came out
with the Velcro eyebrows and it was really funny. It went over well
with everybody. I think it loosened the team up."
The Rockets have three home games left this week, all against
teams with winning records -- Denver, Portland and Phoenix.
"We just have to get back at it," Houston coach Rick Adelman
said. "I just told them that they're going to have tough times
over the course of the season, and we're kind of running into that
The Hawks took control with a 21-3 spurt in the second quarter.
Houston missed 11 of its last 12 shots before halftime and trailed
55-44 at the break.
"We just broke down," Landry said. "Every team in the NBA has
times during the game where the opposing team goes on the run. They
went on a run and we were really not able to bounce back after
Smith and Marvin Williams broke free for dunks early in the
third quarter as Atlanta stretched the lead to 15. Trevor Ariza
drove for two layups to help Houston close the gap to 77-67 by the
start of the fourth.
Kyle Lowry's 3-pointer from the wing with 8:11 left -- Houston's
first 3 of the second half -- cut Atlanta's lead to 83-76.
Mike Bibby sank a 3-pointer with 6:27 left and Crawford hit two free
throws 30 seconds later to restore the Hawks' double-digit lead.
"That's definitely a sign of maturity," Crawford said. "We
don't panic when we take a team's punch. We withstand whatever run
they have, and then try to close the game out."
The Rockets got within eight before Bibby swished a 3-pointer
from the corner with 3:52 left for a 95-84 lead. Landry lost the
ball and Al Horford put back a miss by Crawford, prompting fans to
head for the exits.
The Hawks shot 48 percent (39 of 82) and outrebounded Houston
45-41 to win for the eighth time in 10 games.
The Rockets weren't called for any fouls in the first quarter,
although Chuck Hayes got away with one when he smacked the ball
away from Horford with 3:21 left. No whistle sounded, but Horford
was cut on his left thumb and went to the locker room for stitches.
Horford returned to the bench early in the second quarter with a
bandage protecting the injured finger.
Horford scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds. ...
The Rockets dropped to 14-4 in games following a loss this season.
... The Hawks' victory leaves Milwaukee as the only team that's
never won a regular-season game at the Toyota Center, which opened
in September 2003. The Rockets beat the Bucks here on Jan. 18,
Milwaukee's 10th straight loss in Houston.