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NBA: Hawks look to find a way to finish vs. Rockets

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The Atlanta Hawks will try to solve their fourth-quarter problems when they host the Houston Rockets on Monday night.

Atlanta has lost four of its past six games due largely to an offense that has vanished in the final quarter. It happened most recently in Friday’s 113-105 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, when the Hawks scored only 14 points in the final period.

In a two-point loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 3, the Hawks were scoreless in the final three minutes.

The Rockets had their seven-game winning streak snapped Friday in a 123-114 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, then lost the second half of the back-to-back on Saturday, 113-106 to the Memphis Grizzlies.

“I think overall, fourth-quarter offense has got to be a little bit better,” Atlanta guard Kevin Huerter said. “This isn’t the first time, the first game, something like this has happened in the fourth quarter.”

The Hawks are No. 26 in the league with a minus-6.7 net rating in the final period.

Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said, “I thought we were doing a good job in the first three quarters of attacking their switches, but in the fourth quarter we just started to stand.”

Even leading scorer Trae Young has faltered late in the game. He scored 31 points in the loss to the Nets, but made only 2 of 7 from the field in the fourth quarter.

“I’ve just got to be better, as far as making some more shots in the fourth,” Young said. “I’ve got to be better taking care of the ball. … Trying to force some passes into tight creases, I could have been smarter about. And I’ll be better at it.”

The Hawks have missed the presence of Bogdan Bogdanovic, who could miss two more weeks with a sprained right ankle. He is being limited to spot shooting in practice. But Atlanta is close to getting backup center Onyeka Okongwu back; he had a double-double for the G-League team in his first game back from surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Houston coach Stephen Silas said his team simply ran out of gas while trying to erase a 21-point first-half deficit Saturday against the Grizzlies.

“Fatigue was a factor right from the start for us,” Silas said. “I just felt it with our group, so I tried to sub liberally, try to mix and match.”

The task was made more difficult by the absence of key players Eric Gordon (groin tightness), Jalen Green (left-knee soreness) and Kevin Porter Jr. (thigh), all of whom missed the game. None of the injuries is long term, and each player could return Monday.

–Field Level Media

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