Rafer Alston and Kirk Snyder each had 15 points for the Rockets, while John Lucas scored 14 and Tracy McGrady 13.
Rockets center Yao Ming did not make the trip. He is sidelined after having a toe nail removed recently.
The Rockets (1-1) were the home team in the game but not the favorite of the crowd of 6,275 because former Little Rock Central standout Joe Johnson, who played at Arkansas, had 17 points for the Hawks.
Johnson had his high school jersey retired during a ceremony at the school earlier Friday.
Josh Smith led the Hawks (1-1) with 18 points and Marvin Williams added 16.
Atlanta's only lead was 2-0. With 5:07 left in the first quarter, the Rockets' lead hit double figures and it stayed that way for most of the game. They led 32-20 after one quarter and 65-40 at halftime. Houston led 84-64 starting the fourth quarter.
Atlanta got within 93-86 with 3:55 remaining, but the Rockets got three straight baskets inside -- a dunk and layup by Head and a layup by Lucas -- to slow the run.
The Rockets shot 49 percent (37-of-75) from the field while Atlanta hit 42 percent (34-of-81). The Rockets had a 44-33 advantage on the boards and made 11 more 3-pointers than the Hawks.