Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (
Dec 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) attempts to drive the ball around Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley (2) during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Reuters

Day after day, the Atlanta Hawks are proving they are one of the worthy contenders out of the Eastern Conference. Led by shooter Kyle Korver’s 20 points, the Hawks beat the Houston Rockets, 104-97 for a big road victory to net their 12th victory in their last 13 games.

Atlanta has now posted statement wins against title-contenders Chicago Bulls, 93-86; Cleveland Cavaliers, 127-98 and the Rockets in their last three games. The second best-passing team in basketball shared the ball once again in Texas with a total of 26 assists and they did it without starting point guard Jeff Teague, who is still out due to an injury.

Instead, back-up PG Dennis Schroder logged in 8 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in lieu of Teague even as three other starters aside from Korver scored in double-figures. Al Horford and Paul Milsap had 14 points apiece and DeMarre Carrol added 13 markers. Atlanta shot over 51 per cent in this game while limiting Houston to just 39.5 per cent shooting.

Houston just couldn’t get over the hump in this one. They trailed after the first quarter, 32-26 before falling by a dozen point disadvantage, 52-40 at halftime. The Rockets did battle back in the third and tied it, 74-74 entering the fourth quarter but the Hawks showed composure of an experienced team.

The Rockets were led by Dwight Howard’s double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds and James Harden’s 18 points and 14 dimes. However, the star shooting guard missed 11-of-16 shots from the field. Point guard Patrick Beverley had 14 points and 7 rebounds in the losing effort. After winning six of their previous seven outings, the Rockets have now suffered back-to-back losses, just their second such skid in the season. Houston and Atlanta are both at 19-7 for the season.

Upcoming Schedule (Next 3 Games):
Atlanta Hawks: at Dallas Mavericks, vs. Los Angeles Clippers, vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Houston Rockets: vs. Portland Trail Blazers, at Memphis Grizzlies, at San Antonio Spurs