Rockets Third Quarter Rally Keeps Hope Alive, New Orleans Proves Unhelpful

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Kevin Martin scored 35 points to lead the Houston Rockets, who overcame a double-digit deficit to post a 114-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Chuck Hayes added 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Rockets, who won their second consecutive game to continue their playoff push. They are currently ninth in the Western Conference, three games out of a postseason spot.

Joe Johnson had 25 points to lead the Hawks, who are entrenched in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, four games behind Orlando and four games in front of Philadelphia. Josh Smith ended with 21 points, 11 boards and seven assists.

Atlanta had built a 63-54 lead after the first half, when it led by as many as 14 and shot 58 percent. Kirk Hinrich then scored his only five points of the game several minutes into the third quarter, expanding the Hawks’ lead to 72-61.

However, the Rockets followed with the next eight points to close within a possession, and pulled even later in the quarter. Consecutive layups from Hayes and Martin ended a six-point burst and made it a 77-77 game.

Houston then scored five points in the final 40.7 seconds and carried an 86-81 edge into the fourth.

But the game stayed close, and both teams led down the stretch. They traded six-point bursts, after which Houston held a 105-102 advantage with two minutes remaining.

The Rockets never relinquished that lead, but had to make big shots to do so.

Luis Scola hit two of them: a jumper with 1:34 on the clock that made it a 107-104 game, and another basket with 25.8 ticks left to give Houston a 109-105 edge. Five free throws in the remaining time secured the win.

Game Notes

Both teams shot over 50 percent. Houston made 57 percent of its shots, while the Hawks sank 53 percent from the floor…The teams also combined to make 43- of-49 free throws…Kyle Lowry had 17 points and eight assists for the Rockets.

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