atlanta.hawks.logoRallying from a 15-point deficit in the final 10 minutes, the Atlanta Hawks beat Houston 104-96, retaining the NBA’s best record with their fifth victory in a row.

Taking advantage of a Rockets’ squad playing without suspended NBA scoring leader James Harden, the Hawks had 25 points from Jeff Teague, 18 points from Al Horford and 16 points and 14 rebounds from Paul Millsap.

The Rockets outplayed Atlanta for most of the first three quarters, leading by as many as 18 points despite lacking Harden’s scoring touch as he served a one-game ban for kicking Cleveland superstar LeBron James in the groin in a Houston victory on Sunday.

But in the pivotal final minutes, the Rockets misfired all-too often, shooting only 3-of-17 (17.6 percent) from the floor over the last 10 minutes.

The Hawks improved the NBA’s best record to 48-12, two wins ahead of the Golden State Warriors, while Houston slipped to 41-19, third-best in the Western Conference.

Jason Terry led Houston with 21 points while Terrence Jones added 18 points and eight rebounds in a losing cause.

Houston led 87-72 after Josh Smith and Pablo Prigioni opened the fourth quarter with 3-pointers, but the Rockets managed only one field goal over the next seven minutes.

The Hawks took advantage for a 21-3 run, grabbing their first lead since midway into the opening quarter, and Horford broke a 96-96 deadlock with a baseline jumper then blocked a shot from Jones to help secure Atlanta’s edge.

Dennis Schroeder, who scored 16 points off the Atlanta bench, joined Millsap and Teague in hitting two free throws down the stretch to secure the comeback triumph. – Agence France-Presse

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