Rockets-Hawks: Five Observations

Observations from the Hawks’ 109-97 win over the Rockets Saturday:

Five observations

1. Hawks late run

The Hawks won, simply, by allowing the Rockets just 14 fourth-quarter points. The Rockets were 6 of 19 from the field, while the Hawks were 10 of 21, in the final period. Six of the Hawks’ field goals were 3-pointers. Al Horford hit a corner 3-pointer to start a 9-0 Hawks run to turn a two-point game into a comfortable win.

2. Checking Harden

James Harden finished with 25 points, 14 of which came in the second quarter. The Hawks turned to Thabo Sefolosha to play defend the NBA’s second leading scorer as Kent Bazemore got into some foul trouble. Harden had to come out of the game for a period of time after stepping on Sefolosha’s foot. Harden started the fourth quarter but played just 6:52.

“I think it was a team effort,” Sefolosha said. “He got going, especially in the first half, in transition and found his distance with some 3-point shots. Once we started crowding him a little more, make him past the ball and not allow him to get to the basket, it was better.”

3. They came in bunches

The Hawks are a 3-point shooting team and they rely on the long-distance shot. Against the Rockets, they came in bunches. The Hawks finished 14 of 38 from 3-point range with Tim Hardaway Jr. (5), Kyle Korver (3), Dennis Schroder (2) and Horford (2) doing a most of the damage. Four times the Hawks hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

“That’s when they can really be momentum changers, when there are two or three of them in a row, especially if you get a stop on the other end,” Korver said. “It’s a big part of the game for a reason. It worked in our advantage tonight.”

4. All Rockets in second quarter

The Hawks led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter as they were up 30-16 after the opening period. The Rockets stormed back in the second quarter as they ended the half on a 28-9 run. Harden had 14 points in the quarter, including a run of nine straight, to lead 58-52 at the intermission. Michael Beasley added 11 points in the quarter. The Rockets shot 61 percent (14 of 23) in the period as they outscored the Hawks 42-22. The Hawks committed nine turnovers in the second quarter that led to 17 points.

5. Stickum is illegal in the NBA

The Rockets were caught for Dwight Howard using a Stickum spray on his hands in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against the Hawks.

During a break in the action before Paul Millsap took two free-throw attempts, Howard sprayed his hands at the scorer’s table with a can covered in white tape – apparently to hide its contents. He grabbed the ball after a made first attempt. When Millsap got the ball back it clearly had a foreign substance on it.

“I’ve never felt the ball like that ever,” Millsap said after the game. “It was sticky. It was like super glue or something was on there. I couldn’t get it off my hands. It was the weirdest thing ever.”

Official Monty McCutchen grabbed the ball and went to each bench to issue a warning, saying ‘Stickum is illegal in the NBA.’ After first going to the Hawks bench he made his way toward the Rockets bench. Rockets coach J.B. Bickerstaff slid in front of the can, still at the scorer’s table. McCutchen noted he knew what Bickerstaff was hiding.

No penalty was enforced. The can was then removed from the scorer’s table by a member of the Rockets’ staff. According to one person, the team did not produce the spray can when ask for it later by an official.

The incident is under review by the NBA. Following the game, the ball in question was asked for and delivered to the officiating crew.