ATLANTA — Kent Bazemore shook off a scoring slump that included a scoreless game the night before to show why he earned a new $70 million contract with Atlanta.
Bazemore scored a season-high 20 points and helped contain James Harden in the second half in the Hawks' 112-97 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.
Harden scored 30 points, including 24 in the first half.
Dwight Howard had 20 points and 14 rebounds in his first game against his former Houston teammates. Paul Millsap had 23 points for Atlanta.
Bazemore was averaging only 7.4 points after missing each of his seven shots from the field in Friday night's loss at Washington. He made three 3-pointers against the Rockets.
"That's the beauty of the NBA," Bazemore said. "You get a chance to redeem yourself in such a quick fashion that you have to forget about the night before, and we did just that."
Harden continued his hot start to the season by making 10 of 19 shots but said Houston needed better defense.
"Just too many breakdowns defensively," Harden said. "... Too many missed coverages, blown coverages."
Harden had 12 assists and nine rebounds but had only six points in the second half as Bazemore led Atlanta's defense.
"It was definitely an individual challenge to contain one of the best players in the NBA," Bazemore said. "You have to rely on your teammates a ton to be behind you."
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer described Bazemore's defense as "phenomenal."
Bazemore signed a four-year, $70 million deal in the offseason after averaging 11.6 points last season, his first year as a full-time starter with Atlanta. He had made only 27.7 percent of his shots from the field for the season before finding his shooting touch against the Rockets.
"Kent had a bounce-back from the four or five tough games," said Hawks guard Dennis Schroder. "He competed. That's what we do."
Harden has recorded at least 30 points and 10 assists in four of Houston's first six games.
The Hawks led 65-59 at halftime and didn't slow their scoring pace until late in the game when each team pulled its starters.
"At some point we've got to guard a guy," said Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni.
Atlanta led most of the game as it snapped a streak of two straight losses.
Rockets: Houston lost its sixth straight in the series. ... K.J. McDaniels had 13 points. Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela each had 12 points.
Hawks: Millsap had 11 rebounds and five of Atlanta's 16 steals. The Hawks began the night leading the NBA with 11.4 steals per game and had 10 takeaways in the first half. ... Dennis Schroder had 12 assists and 17 points.
NO BAD FEELINGS
Howard insisted he left Houston with no bad feelings following three seasons with the Rockets.
"That's in the past," Howard said before the game. "I'm going to leave it there. Houston's in a good place, Atlanta's in a good place. ... I have nothing bad to say about the Rockets and my time there."
Asked about his relationship with Harden, Howard said "I have no ill will toward any player in this league."
BAD CALL, GOOD HUG
Hawks fans booed loudly for several minutes after Howard was called for a foul on what appeared to be a clean blocked shot against McDaniels. Howard hugged referee Bill Spooner before the start of the second half and said Spooner acknowledged it was a good block.
Howard demonstrated to teammates in the postgame locker room that he palmed the ball on the block.
Rockets: A five-game road trip continues when Houston plays at Washington on Monday night.
Hawks: Atlanta will visit Cleveland to face LeBron James and the Central Division-leading Cavaliers on Tuesday night.