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Rockets fall to Hawks 117-107 in opener

The Rockets played tough but took the L.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bad timing for me for the first game recap of the season. I’m travelling for my best friend’s wedding, so I wasn’t able to get a recap up last night — though Mike and Jeremy dropped the recap pod for you after game. Make sure you check it out.

But the Houston Rockets got off to a good start against a playoff contending Atlanta Hawks team but couldn’t sustain their performance throughout and fell 117-107 in the season opener.

Kevin Porter Jr. led the Rockets in scoring with 21 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals to go along with 9-for-19 shooting from the field and 3-for-5 shooting from three-point range.

But it was Jalen Green who got the Rockets off to an early 14-4 run that had Houston out fast in the first. Green finished with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block on 7-for-20 shooting. It was his three-ball he mostly had issues with, going just 1-for-7 deep, but he did have his hops going.

The Hawks quickly bounced back however, going on a 22-4 run of their own, before Rockets rookie Jabari Smith got going a little for Houston to keep it close. Smith wasn’t fantastic offensively, finishing with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 1 assist on 6-for-17 shooting and 3-for-11 from deep, but the shooting should be there more often than not, and he showed a lot of good things.

Despite heading into the break down nine points, Houston bounced back with a good third quarter to only take an 84-80 defecit into the final frame, but the Rockets weren’t able to close it out, stumbling and bumbling a bit down the stretch for the loss.

Bruno Fernando wound up with the start at center over Alperen Sengun, and the results were pretty good, with Bruno tallying a nice line of 7 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 blocks on 3-for-3 shooting. Stephen Silas elected to start Fernando due to his better fit with the starters as a rim runner and protector, while Sengun would be able to facilitate the offense more as a reserve. Fernando made it seem like a good decision.

For his part, Sengun continued to have up and downs, finishing with 15 points and 9 rebounds on 5-for-9 shooting, but he also had zero assists and committed a team-high 6 turnovers. It will be interesting to see the dynamic at center moving forward.

Fan favorite Tari Eason only got 15 minutes off of the bench, but he continued to do Eason things, finishing with 8 points and 7 boards. Silas needs to get him more court time.

The Hawks had four starters with 20-plus points, including 24 from John Collins, 23 points and 13 assists from Trae Young, 22 points from Deandre Hunter and 20 from Dejounte Murray with 11 assists.

Overall, despite the loss, there was some encouraging play, considering Houston mostly hung with an expected playoff team on the road. Certainly some things to iron out, but the Rockets are going to be a fun watch this year.