The Atlanta Hawks, led by rookie Onyeka Okongwu’s career bests of 21 points and 15 rebounds, tuned up for their first trip to the playoffs since 2017 with a 124-95 win over the visiting Houston Rockets in the regular-season finale on Sunday.
Atlanta rested four starters who had nagging injuries, choosing to sit Bogdan Bogdanovic (left hamstring soreness), league-leading rebounder Clint Capela (left Achilles soreness), Danilo Gallinari (lower back soreness) and Kevin Huerter (left ankle soreness) with the No. 4 seed secured for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Okongwu, who posted his second double-double, was 10-for-13 from the field, added three assists, two steals and two blocked shots. The Hawks had eight players in double figures, including Skylar Mays with 16, John Collins with 15 and De’Andre Hunter with 14.
Trae Young (sore big right toe) was limited to 16 minutes and scored 10 points with nine assists.
Houston was led by D.J. Augustin with 18 points and five assists, Armoni Brooks with 18 points, and Kelly Olynyk with 16 points and six rebounds.
The Hawks (41-31) are 10 games over .500 for the first time since the 2015-16 team finished 48-34; Atlanta has won four straight and seven of its last eight. The Rockets (17-55) lost eight of their last nine games and 11 of their last 13 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.
The Rockets hung close for a quarter, but Atlanta caught fire in the second half and turned a 36-33 lead to a 72-54 advantage at halftime. Sparked mainly by their second unit, the Hawks outscored the Rockets by nine in the third quarter and took a 99-72 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Hawks swept the two-game season series with Houston after being swept in each of the last three season series.
–Field Level Media