Coach Rick Adelman would like to see the Houston Rockets put together a long winning streak at home. They've certainly done that against the Atlanta Hawks.
Having won five in a row overall, the Rockets look to win their ninth straight home game against the Hawks when the teams meet on Saturday night for the first time this season.
Houston (29-20) is on perhaps its best run of the season, having won nine of its last 10. But five of those victories have been on the road, where the Rockets have taken eight straight. A 92-77 win over Cleveland on Thursday night was the Rockets' second straight at home, where they haven't won more than three in a row all season and are 13-9.
"I really believe that you have to go out and get six, seven or eight in a row at home," Adelman said. "You have to establish that streak at home and build off that."
Houston has a chance to win six straight overall in a single season for the first time since closing 2004-05 with seven consecutive victories. It also will be trying to match its longest home winning streak of 2007-08, and a matchup with the Hawks (21-25) seems to give the Rockets an excellent opportunity to extend both runs.
Houston has won eight straight at home against Atlanta since a 93-87 loss on Feb. 25, 1999. Before that defeat, the Rockets won their previous six at home versus the Hawks.
Houston All-Star Tracy McGrady, averaging 28.6 points in his last 11 games against Atlanta, played through flu-like symptoms against the Cavs and finished with eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. He is expected to play Saturday.
Reserve guard Luther Head, however, has missed three straight games for Houston with a strained groin and his status is uncertain.
Even with Head sidelined and McGrady sick, the Rockets outscored the Cavs in 52-38 in the second half. Adelman said late-game play is where Houston has improved the most in recent weeks.
"We finish games a lot better, we've defended down the stretch and we've executed and made shots," Adelman said. "That's the big thing. That's how you win close games."
Atlanta, meanwhile, had a fourth-quarter rally fall short Friday night, losing 100-95 to Cleveland. The Hawks, who had their three-game winning streak halted, allowed an opponent to reach 100 points for just the second time in eight games.
Joe Johnson again led Atlanta, finishing with 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds. But the All-Star committed eight of the Hawks' 16 turnovers, which led to 18 Cleveland points. Johnson also injured a toe with just over five minutes remaining Friday and didn't return.
Johnson is averaging a team-high 21.1 points per game this season, but has just posted 11.2 while shooting 37.4 percent from the field in his last nine games in Houston.
The Rockets and Hawks last season's series.
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