The Atlanta Hawks saw their six-game road trip get off to a shaky start with a 115-102 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Atlanta fell behind by as many as 33 points before the reserves made a charge at the end.
Things went sideways early for the Hawks who never did seem to find a rhythm offensively. Denver's small ball lineup caught fire early and closed the first quarter with a 15-7 run to take a 31-22 lead.
Things didn't get any better from there as the Nuggets pushed the lead to 24 points with a 23-8 run to start the second quarter. For every shot the Hawks made, Denver had an answer, usually in the form of a made three-point bucket. Atlanta found a bit of energy at the end of the half and closed with a 12-6 spurt of their own to cut the deficit to 60-42 at the half.
The wheels came back off in the third however, as the Nuggets outscored Atlanta 38-26 and pushed the lead to as many as 33 points. With a long road trip just starting, Mike Budenholzer began pulling his starters midway through the third quarter and turned things over to the bench.
To Atlanta's credit, the bench didn't quit and outscored the Nuggets 34-17 in the fourth quarter to make the final score look much more respectable.
Kyle Korver was about the only thing that went right for the Hawks on Wednesday. Kover led Atlanta with 18 points including five made threes and moved past Kobe Bryant on the all-time list. Dennis Schröder added 13 and Paul Millsap 12.
Danilo Gallinari scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half to lead the Nuggets. Will Barton added 16 points while Kenneth Faried added 14 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. The Nuggets made half of their field goal attempts for the game and knocked down 13-31 three-point attempts.
The loss adds to Atlanta's recent struggles in Denver. The Hawks have now dropped eight straight road contests to the Nuggets with their last victory coming in 2006.
The Hawks haven't been through many games like this during the season but they have done a good job of bouncing back from bad losses. They will have to bring much more energy and focus defensively if they hope for a better result Friday night in Phoenix.