The Atlanta Hawks took down the Denver Nuggets 108-104 on national television behind a pair of double-doubles from their stars Josh Smith and Al Horford. Horford had 25 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and four steals in one of his best performances of the season. Josh Smith, who was celebrating his 27th birthday, had 16 points and 13 boards. Josh only played 13 minutes in the first half due to the great performances put forth by Zaza Pachulia and Ivan Johnson off the bench. Zaza led the Hawks with 11 points and six boards in the first half, with all his points and all but one of his rebounds coming in the second quarter. Al Horford added 10 points and six rebounds in the first half, and Devin Harris went 4-for-4 from the field for nine points.
The Nuggets were led by Ty Lawson in the first half, and really all game, as he scored 15 points and dropped five dimes on his way to a 32 points, seven assist, five steal performance. The Hawks gameplan was to keep the Nuggets off of the glass, especially on offense, turn the Nuggets over, and get out in transition. The Hawks accomplished all of those goals en route to the victory as they out-rebounded the mighty Nuggets 47-40 overall and 19-11 on offensive glass. Turned the Nuggets over 20 times for 20 points off turnovers, and were able to get 24 fast break points on 13 fast-break shots. Atlanta even shot 84.2% from the free throw line, including hitting their final five free throws of the game.
Despite executing their gameplan, Atlanta still gave up another seven-point fourth quarter lead and found themselves down 98-97 with 2:34 to play. The Hawks were able to close the game out behind Josh Smith and Lou Williams. Lou came in for Jeff Teague at the 2:52 mark in the fourth and quickly gave the Hawks an offensive spark. He penetrated the Nuggets defense, forcing them to foul, and hit all four of his free throws down the stretch. Williams finished the game with 16 points and six assists, while playing good defense down the stretch on the shifty Ty Lawson. Josh Smith had five points in the final three minutes off of a wide-open dunk from a Horford feed, and then picked up a loose ball and threw down a two-handed jam on Corey Brewer despite being fouled (shockingly made his free throw, nothing but net).
The Hawks iced the game with their defense as Lou Williams poked the ball away from Ty Lawson which was recovered by Devin Harris with 11 seconds to play. Atlanta improved their record to 10-5 on the season, while dropping the Nuggets to 9-10. Atlanta's record also improved to 9-2 when they either out-rebound opponents, or are out-rebounded by nine or fewer. After a poor effort against the Cavs on Friday night, Atlanta spent the last five days focusing on playing with energy, boxing out, and having all five players attack the glass.
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