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Rockets Marquee Games To Watch: Season Opener vs. Hawks

After ending last season in a 16-point defeat to the Hawks, the Houston Rockets will have a chance at redemption during their first game of the 2022-23 campaign in Atlanta.

HOUSTON — April 10 marked the last time the Houston Rockets played a regular season game to close out the 2021-22 campaign. The Rockets sustained a 130-114 defeat to the Atlanta Hawks despite Jalen Green scoring a career-best 41 points. 

Following the loss, each player who took part in the post-game press conference inside the Toyota Center mentioned the disappointment of ending the season with a 16-point loss. 

Six months later, the Rockets will have a chance at redemption on Oct. 19 in a road match against the Hawks. The interconference contest inside the State Farm Arena will mark the first of the Rockets' 82-game season for the 2022-23 campaign

"We did not have the season that we wanted but showed glimpses," Green said following the loss. "I just hope that the fans and everyone around us has hope that we will be great soon."

The Rockets' season opener against the Hawks will also mark the debut of Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason and TyTy Washington — the college prospects Houston landed during the 2022 NBA Draft. 

The trio of rookies showcased their promise during the 2022 NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas.

Smith, the only top-five prospect drafted in June to play all five summer league games, averaged 14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals. Washington averaged 9.4 points on 37.5 percent shooting from the field, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals.

The NBA named Eason as one of five players on the NBA 2K23 All-Summer League first team. He averaged 17.2 points on 44.7 percent shooting, 10.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals and a block.

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But the Rockets will not be the only team on the floor showcasing new talent. The Hawks will debut their new All-Star backcourt against Houston, with Dejounte Murray joining Trae Young. Atlanta landed Murray in June following a trade with the San Antonio Spurs.

Murray's contest against the Rockets will mark the sixth meeting against his childhood friend and former high school teammate, Kevin Porter Jr. Murray holds a 3-2 record against Porter.  

Porter's best game against Murray took place on Mar. 28 in a Rockets' 123-120 home loss to the Spurs. Porter fell short of a triple-double with 26 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in the loss.  

"It was a long season for me individually," Porter said in April. "With this being the last game, I can say that I made some improvements. Now I am aware of what I have to work on during the offseason. There are a lot of positive things I can take away from this season."  

The Rockets split their two-game regular season contest against the Hawks during the 2021-22 campaign. Eric Gordon led the Rockets to a road victory on Dec. 13 with 32 points in the win.

You can follow Coty Davis on Twitter @CotyDavis_24

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