ATLANTA — The Houston Rockets' 20th consecutive win was far from pretty, but coach Rick Adelman was still impressed with his team.
The Rockets were held to their lowest first-half total of the season but pulled away late to become the third team in NBA history to win 20 consecutive games, tying for the league's second-longest winning streak with an 83-75 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
"It may be the ugliest thing we've done, but it might have been the best one," Adelman said, "the way we fought through it."
The Rockets joined the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (33 straight) and 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (20) as the only teams to win 20 or more in a row.
Tracy McGrady scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half for Houston, which led only 71-70 with five minutes left. McGrady then scored five points in Houston's 10-0 run to take control.
"We're really happy with this win because we didn't play well in the first half," McGrady said. "This is a pretty ugly game tonight. We didn't shoot well and it was one of those games that our defense really had to win for us."
Modesto's Chuck Hayes played 33 minutes off the bench, tied for the team lead with 12 rebounds and scored eight points for Houston on 4-of-6 shooting.
NUGGETS 108, GRIZZLIES 86, at Denver — Kenyon Martin scored 23 points, and Carmelo Anthony had 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead Denver. Allen Iverson, playing with a fractured ring finger on his right hand, scored just eight points on 2-for-12 shooting.
NETS 104, CAVALIERS 99, at East Rutherford, N.J. — Richard Jefferson scored 24 points, and New Jersey overcame LeBron James' 42 points to snap a six-game losing streak.
MAGIC 110, CLIPPERS 88, at Orlando, Fla. — Dwight Howard had his league-leading 57th double-double of the season with 22 points and 13 rebounds for Orlando, which had all five starters in double figures by the end of the third.
KNICKS 91, HEAT 88, at Miami — Jamal Crawford scored 23 points, and New York wasted most of a 14-point fourth-quarter lead before beating Miami to snap a seven-game losing streak.
CELTICS 111, SUPERSONICS 82, at Boston — Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen each scored 18 points to lift Boston to its 10th consecutive victory. Paul Pierce added 14 points and 11 assists for Boston, which improved to 12-0 at home against the Western Conference.
76ERS 83, PISTONS 82, at Auburn Hills, Mich. — Andre Iguodala scored 22 points and Philadelphia didn't score in the final 2:27, but won when Chauncey Billups' jumper over Rodney Carney bounced off the rim as time expired.
HORNETS 100, SPURS 75, at New Orleans — Chris Paul led New Orleans with 26 points and 17 assists. David West, returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for three games, had 29 points and 10 rebounds.
JAZZ 114, BUCKS 110, at Milwaukee — Carlos Boozer had a go-ahead layup with 46.7 seconds and Utah narrowly avoided another surprising road loss following a 12-point loss at Chicago on Tuesday. Deron Williams led Utah with 26 points and 13 assists, his ninth double-double in a row and 41st overall.
MAVERICKS 118, BOBCATS 93, at Dallas — Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points in 28 minutes, and Josh Howard added 24 points as Dallas snapped Charlotte's franchise-record five-game winning streak.