Harrington, Hawks Fly Past Rockets
Atlanta 94, Houston 83
ATLANTA, Jan. 16 (Ticker) -- The Atlanta Hawks are not yet a good team. Thanks to Al Harrington, they are at least ahead of last season's version.
Harrington scored 28 points and Joe Johnson added 22 as the Hawks posted a 94-83 victory over the reeling Houston Rockets.
With the win, the Hawks (10-26) snapped a four-game losing streak and became the last NBA team to win its 10th game. Last season, Atlanta was just 13-19 and did not notch its 10th win until Feb. 7, following up with a 13-game losing streak.
Atlanta is not anywhere near a playoff contender this season but with Harrington and Johnson has a few pieces in place.
"We're a better team than we were last year," said Harrington, who is in the last season of a four-year, $24 million contract. "We've given away 10 games this year. We have to continue to compete."
"I think we are (better than last year)," second-year swingman Josh Smith said. "We're starting to find ways to win basketball games."
Harrington, who made 12-of-16 shots, scored 17 points in the first half to help the Hawks open a 49-39 lead. Houston closed to 71-65 after three quarters and was within 73-68 with 9:50 to play but could get no closer.
The Hawks put away the game with an 18-7 run sparked by Johnson and Josh Childress. Johnson had seven in the spurt and Childress added five, including an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Johnson and a 3-pointer with 4:15 to play that made it 91-75.
"We've been having letdowns in the fourth quarter," Johnson said. "They made a little run, but we managed to come back and counteract it with our own run. I thought we played big in the fourth quarter."
Juwan Howard scored 20 points and Rafer Alston 19 for Houston, which fell to 0-12 when playing without Tracy McGrady. The All-Star swingman has struggled with back spasms all season and missed his fourth straight game.
"In case (McGrady) came back tonight, we were preparing to contain him," Johnson said. "We were happy he was out, because it takes a lot off our shoulders. But at the same time, we still had a fight ahead of us, and we still had to come out and play hard."
The Rockets also played without All-Star center Yao Ming (toe) and forward Stromile Swift (eye).
Rookie guard Luther Head scored 16 points off the bench but also had six turnovers for Houston. The Rockets finished with 20 turnovers which led to 27 points for the Hawks. Houston scored only six points off 14 Atlanta turnovers.
"We came out very well, but I think one thing that killed us was our turnovers," said Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo, who scored a season-high 14 points and added 10 rebounds. "We gave up about 12 turnovers early in the game and missed about seven free throws that gave them a chance to establish the momentum in the game."
"We got outrebounded by nine, we turned the ball over 20 times and the Hawks got 27 points," Howard said. "That's a problem right there. They shot 50 percent from the field and that's a problem defensively. It was just a ton of things tonight."
Salim Stoudamire scored 11 points and fellow rookie reserve Marvin Williams 10 for Atlanta, which improved to 1-1 on its season-high seven game homestand.