Dwight Howard has 24 points, 23 rebounds in Hawks’ win over Rockets (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON (AP) Dwight Howard scored 24 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in his first game back in Houston since signing with Atlanta in the offseason, leading the Hawks to a 113-108 victory over the Rockets on Thursday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. had 33 points for Atlanta, including a driving dunk with less than a minute remaining that gave Atlanta a three-point lead.

The Hawks trailed by as many as 20 points and entered the fourth quarter down 13 before Howard led a late comeback.

James Harden had 41 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, but the Rockets struggled to make shots down the stretch. Clint Capela had 22 points and nine rebounds.

Houston lost its lead when Hardaway Jr. was fouled on a driving layup and converted the free throw to give Atlanta a one-point lead with two minutes remaining.

Howard, who spent the last three seasons in Houston, received a mostly warm welcome by the Toyota Center crowd, with some light, scattered boos.

Howard dominated the game early, winning the tip against Capela and scoring eight points in the first four minutes. He had a double-double before halftime.

After a back-and-forth first half that featured 13 lead changes, the Rockets held a slim 50-47 lead at the break. Houston got separation early in the second half when Harden drained three 3-pointers in the first two minutes of the third quarter. Harden scored Houston’s first 13 points of the quarter, extending the lead to nine.

After hitting one fadeaway jumper in his red-hot third quarter, Harden gestured to a sideline spectator in a newsboy cap and gold chain: boxer Floyd Mayweather, who was in town for the Super Bowl.

TIP-IN

Hawks: Thabo Sefolosha missed his third straight game with a groin injury. Hardaway started in his place. … Mike Dunleavy left the game early in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury and did not return.

Rockets: Before the game, SG Eric Gordon was selected as one of the eight participants in the 3-point shooting contest during NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans on Feb. 18. Gordon ranks second in the NBA with 170 3-pointers made, shooting 38.6 percent from the 3-point line.

UP NEXT

Hawks: Host Orlando on Saturday night.

Rockets: Host Chicago on Friday night.