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Scorching Harden Leads Rockets Past Hawks

Brett Deering/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- James Harden sure seems to like being a starter in the NBA.

Harden scored a career-high 45 points to continue his strong start with his new team, and the Houston Rockets got by the Atlanta Hawks 109-92 on Friday night.

A bench player his entire career in Oklahoma City, Harden has been drawing rave reviews through two games as a starter. "He's pretty good, I'd say," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "He just kept battling and playing."

Houston (2-0) also got 19 rebounds from center Omer Asik despite missing all seven of his field goal attempts. The Rockets outrebounded the Hawks 58-36.

The Hawks (0-1) dropped their first game without centerpiece Joe Johnson, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in the offseason. They got 22 points from Lou Williams in his Atlanta debut, but could not contain Harden and the Rockets offense.

"When he gets the basketball in transition, he's going to get to the basket," Atlanta head coach Larry Drew said. "It won't be just one guy's responsibility, it will be a team responsibility."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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