The Atlanta Hawks had opportunities Thursday night to put away the Denver Nuggets but failed to do so and it came back to haunt them in a 109-107 loss.
Atlanta came out of the gates quickly as they jumped out to a 23-14 lead after a floater from Jeff Teague. However, Denver would finish the quarter with a 12-3 run to tie the game at 26-26. The lead would see-saw back and forth throughout the second and third quarters with neither team able to build any separation.
For a moment it looked like the Hawks were going to take control in the fourth. Teague put Atlanta up 98-90 with 6:52 remaining to give the Hawks their biggest lead since the first quarter. Denver stormed right back scoring the next nine points to reclaim the lead. By the time Atlanta regained their footing, the Nuggets led 107-102 after a 17-4 run.
Atlanta answered back with another bucket from Teague and two free throws from Paul Millsap to cut the deficit to just one. After Lawson made 1-of-2 at the line to put Denver up two the Hawks went inside to Horford who missed but Millsap was fouled during the scramble with just 8.2 seconds remaining. Millsap would miss the first and make the second to bring Atlanta within one at 108-107.
Atlanta fouled Nate Robinson right away and he gave them another chance when he split a pair of free throws. The Hawks went into Millsap on the final possession but he missed a step-back jumper over Andre Miller and Horford's follow went wide giving Denver their first win of the season.
The loss spoils what was an outstanding night for Millsap who finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists on 10-of-15 shooting. Horford added 21 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Kyle Korver finished with 16 points while Jeff Teague logged another double-double with 14 points and 11 assists.
Ty Lawson led the way for the Nuggets with 23 points and eight assists. Nate Robinson scored 15 off the bench while JaVale McGee added 14. Randy Foye chipped in 13 while Evan Fournier finished with 12.
Once again Atlanta's defensive struggles on the perimeter cost them as the Nuggets shot 49 percent for the game and went 14-for-25 (56 percent) from three-point range.
With the loss, the Hawks fall to 2-3 on the season and finish their road trip at 1-2. Atlanta returns home where they will face the Orlando Magic on Saturday.