HOUSTON, Dec. 20 (Ticker) -- Cuttino Mobley
, Glen Rice
and Yao Ming
fueled a huge third quarter as the Houston Rockets rallied for a 101-82 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, who have lost five straight games.
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scored 22 points as Atlanta built a 49-38 halftime lead. Ira Newble
's basket made it 55-42 early in the third quarter before the Hawks collapsed and suffered their seventh straight road loss.
"They rattled us in the beginning," Mobley said. "Glenn Robinson came out super-hot and their guys followed. We huddled before we went on the floor (to start the second half) and said we had to get more aggressive. The third quarter was like night and day."
Houston responded with 12 straight points to close within 55-54 on a three-pointer by Rice with just under six minutes remaining. Jason Terry momentarily stooped the bleeding for Atlanta with a three-pointer.
Robinson's three-pointer made it 61-57 before Houston scored eight straight to take the lead for good. Yao made 1-of-2 at the line and another three-pointer by Rice tied it. Steve Francis gave the Rockets the lead for good with a short jumper and Yao's two free throws made it 65-61 with 3:48 to go.
Houston outscored Atlanta in the third period, 37-19. The Rockets shot 59 percent (10-of-17) for their season-high total
for a quarter.
"Defensively, in the first half, we were very sharp," Atlanta coach Lon Kruger said. "The third quarter was totally different. Houston shot the ball well and made us pay for it. We just didn't get any stops in the third quarter. They've got a lot of guys around Yao who shoot it."
Francis scored 23 points to lead Houston, which improved to 7-2 against Eastern Conference foes. Mobley finished with 22
points. Francis and Mobley bounced back after combining to make 4-of-16 shots for 12 points in the first half.
The Hawks held a 32-17 advantage on the glass in the first half before Houston's turnaround.
"We were not on the boards," Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "The ball didn't move like it should. But we had a talk at
the half. After that, our defense was better. Our moving the ball was phenomenal."
Yao added 17 points and eight rebounds despite 4-of-12 shooting. Rice scored 13 points and Moochie Norris chipped in 11. Rice drilled three of Houston's five three-pointers in the third quarter.
"We started moving the ball a lot better than earlier in the game," Rice said. "They weren't doing something. With the
shooters we've got on this team, we only need half a second."
"We overcommitted on defense and we have to learn to play a full game like we did in the first half," Robinson said.
A pair of foul shots by Shareef Abdur-Rahim opened the scoring in the fourth quarter and pulled the Hawks within 75-70. Mobley drained a three-pointer to trigger a 10-2 spurt, which Francis
capped with a three-point play with 6:35 left.
Robinson finished with 28 points although he was limited to six on 2-of-6 shooting in the second half. Abdur-Rahim added 20
points and nine rebounds while Theo Ratliff fouled out with five blocks in 20 minutes.
The Rockets capitalized at the foul line by shooting 87 percent (20-of-23). Yao was 9-of-10 and Francis was 8-of-9.
James Posey, Houston's recent acquisition, played the final three minutes and did not take a shot. The remaining fans at the Compaq Center were urging Posey, who averaged 14.1 points per game with Denver this year, to shoot.