The Atlanta Hawks came into Denver shorthanded but put up a good fight before running out of gas late and falling to the Nuggets 104-88. Atlanta was already facing long odds as they headed into Denver on the second night of a back-to-back to wrap up a six-game road trip. They found out shortly before tip off that they would also have to compete with a shorthanded roster.
Atlanta played without the services of DeShawn Stevenson, Zaza Pachulia and sharpshooter Kyle Korver against the Nuggets. The Hawks expected to be without Stevenson who usually sets out the second game of back-to-backs. However, Kyle Korver suffered a sprained toe in Sunday's loss to the Lakers and Zaza Pachulia was a late scratch after his sore Achilles flared up after pregame warmups.
Still Atlanta was able to compete with a deep Nuggets team until running out of gas in the fourth. The Hawks trailed 58-50 at the half but cut the lead to just two with 7:21 remaining in the third. Denver answered with a run of their own and took a 81-73 lead into the fourth. The Nuggets outscored Atlanta 23-15 in the fourth and cruised home to their 26th home victory this season.
Al Horford streak of 20 point games snapped but he still led the Hawks with 18 points and 13 rebounds on 9-16 shooting. Josh Smith and Jeff Teague finished with 15 points each with Teague also handing out a team-high eight assists. John Jenkins scored 12 points off the Atlanta bench and Devin Harris also finished in double figures with 11.
Corey Brewer led the Nuggets with 22 points off the bench. Ty Lawson added 18 points and eight assists while Wilson Chandler finished with 13. Kenneth Faried logged a double-double with 10 points and 13 boards. Denver out rebounded the Hawks 48-35 and had a 70-42 advantage in points in the paint.
Atlanta finished 3-3 on its six-game road trip. That is not a bad mark considering the length of the trip but the ugly loss in Phoenix followed by a close loss in Los Angeles leaves somewhat of a bad taste in your mouth. Atlanta has now lost three in a row and have dropped all the way to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.
Even though the Hawks return home, the schedule doesn't exactly get any less forgiving. After a home matchup on Wednesday against Philadelphia, Atlanta heads to Boston on Friday and returns home on Saturday to face Brooklyn. The Hawks are battling with both the Celtics and the Nets for playoff positioning so getting healthy becomes even more important heading into the weekend.