“They treating them like mother-expletive all-stars already,” blurted Hawks guard Louis Williams to everyone within earshot during the final minutes of the Hawks season opening 102-109 loss to the visiting Houston Rockets at Philips Arena.
Williams’ outburst was in reference to a perceived imbalance in the officiating for any Hawks player guarding either James Harden or Jeremy Lin. The newly paired Rockets backcourt scored 66 of the 109 points. Harden scored 15 points on 17 free throw attempts. “My teammates did a good job of finding me and putting me in positions to score the ball and make plays so credit to them and credit to the coaching staff as well,” said Harden.
Houston grabbed the lead with two minutes remaining in the first quarter and held on until Williams converted a fastbreak midway through the fourth. “We battled our way back into the game to even get it to that point,” said Williams. “The first three quarters, they put together better basketball than we did.”
Atlanta’s opening day line-up included the three starting holdovers and off-season acquisitions swing-man Kyle Korver and guard Devin Harris. Korver saw the bulk of his 14 minutes in the first half with neither seeing any playing time in the fourth.
Lin didn’t disappoint in his first regular season game as the Rockets new floor general. The former Knicks guard, who rocketed to fame in replacement duty in NYC, dished out 7 assists and yanked down 10 boards to go with a 21 point night.
The Rockets 10 point lead began to slip away on a layup by Zaza Pachulia at the horn ending the third quarter. Pachulia cut the lead to 3 knocking down both ends of a one and one. After a few lead exchanges the Rockets stepped on the gas. Harden broke the tie on a 17 foot jumper and went on to score 12 points in the last 4 minutes to seal the win for Houston.
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