Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/2/12
ATLANTA -- James Harden picked up where he left off after his eye-popping 37-point debut against the Pistons on Halloween, scoring 45 points to lead Houston Rockets to a 109-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Jeremy Lin added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Omer Asik had a career-high 19 rebounds. Josh Smith led the Hawks' frantic fourth-quarter comeback, giving the Hawks an 88-87 with 7:10 left to play after they had trailed by as many as 16 points. Smith finished with 18 points. An 8-1 spurt in the third quarter got the Hawks back to 69-60 with 4:47 left, and they were within striking distance as the quarter ended, 81-74. The Hawks, sensing some fatigue on the Rockets' part, made their move in the fourth quarter, spurred by Lou Williams's end-to-end speed coupled with Josh Smith's aggressiveness. Williams had 13 of his 22 points in the fourth. Harden picked up where he left off after his eye-popping debut with 17 first-half points. He got help in the first quarter as Marcus Morris scored six points off the bench in a minute and a half. The Rockets ended the quarter on a 10-2 run that gave them a 28-21 lead. Devin Harris made four of his first five shots for the Hawks, and he led the team with nine points in the first quarter. The Rockets out-rebounded the Hawks 20-8 in the first quarter, and Asik had seven of those. The insertion of Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia to begin the second quarter helped to offset that rebounding deficit. Neither team was having much luck with three-point shot. The Rockets were 0-for-15 until Harden hit one with 1:50 to go in the half. The Hawks weren't much better at 3-for-12, but the Rockets built their 53-44 halftime lead on 32 points in the paint to the Hawks' 20. NOTES: Smith began the 2012-13 season with 9,044 points, 4,768 rebounds, 1,849 assists and 1,304 blocked shots, on pace to become the 24th player in NBA history with 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocked shots. The five active players to have achieved those marks are Elton Brand, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki. ... Hawks coach Larry Drew was undecided on his starting lineup until 45 minutes before game time; he elected to go small at the shooting guard position, starting Harris. ... Rockets coach Kevin McHale credits Harden's intelligence and high basketball IQ for the fact that he was able to play as well as he did in his first game with the team. ... With back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, the Rockets have no time to practice. "We're going to throw them out there, ready or not," McHale says of Cole Aldrich and Daequan Cook, who came over with Harden from the Thunder. ... Patrick Patterson, who sat out the Rockets' first game with a strained left quad, started against the Hawks.
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