Tim Hardaway Jr. would not – and frankly could not – be stopped.
The Hawks guard single-handedly brought his team back from a 20-point four-quarter deficit in another shocking victory.
Hardaway scored a career-high 33 points, 23 in the final quarter, as the Hawks defeated the Rockets 113-108 Thursday night at the Toyota Center.
The Hawks ended the game on a 36-11 run with Hardaway scoring 20 of his points during the remarkable stretch. The Rockets led 97-77 with 8:27 left. Hardaway tied the game 106-106, with a drive to the basket with 2:25 remaining. He completed the and-one free throw to give the Hawks their first lead since the second quarter. He then added two more free throws, a 3-pointer and a slam dunk.
“There was a timeout when it was a 14-point game,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “You just feel like you get two or three stops and two or three buckets. Once it gets to 10 or eight with six or seven minutes to go. It’s just getting it to six or eight. … Then anything can happen the last five or six minutes.”
Dwight Howard finished with a double-double of 24 points and 23 rebounds in his return to Houston.
The Hawks (29-21) have won seven straight games against the Rockets, including both games this season and the past three in Houston. Paul Millsap added 16 points and DeAndre Bembry finished with 10 points. Starters Dennis Schroder and Millsap did not play the fourth quarter as the Hawks mounted the late charge.
The Rockets (36-17) were led by James Harden with a game-high 41 points. He scored 16 first-quarter and 18-third quarter points. Bembry helped limit the MVP candidate to six points in the fourth quarter.
The Hawks shot 67 percent from the field in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t even think we looked at the score,” Howard said of the comeback. “We just tried to get as many stops as possible. Get out and get some easy buckets. Tim was making crazy shots so we kept trying to find plays to get him attacking the basket.”