A good day of practice and the return of an All-Star helped the Atlanta Hawks get back on track Monday night with a 119-105 win over the Denver Nuggets. Paul Millsap returned from a one-game absence and finished with a team-best 22 points and nine rebounds.
Atlanta took control of the game in the second quarter when they outscored the Nuggets 35-20 to take a 66-50 advantage at the half. The Hawks had an answer for every Denver run in the second half and eventually pushed the lead to as many as 22 points before cruising home for the victory.
With the win, Atlanta wraps up their four-game road trip with a 2-2 record and snapped a two-game losing streak in the process.
Point Guards bounce back
It has been a month long struggle for Jeff Teague in January but he put together one of his best performances of the month in Monday's win over the Nuggets. Teague logged a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists to go along with three steals.
Dennis Schroder also provided a lift off the bench with 15 points and five assists in just 19 minutes of action.
While the Hawks utilize and equal opportunity offensive system, it is the point guards that drive its success. When Teague and Schroder are playing well they provide Atlanta with a solid one, two punch combination. When they struggle, the Hawks typically struggle so it was good to see them end the road trip on a high note.
Kyle Korver quietly coming around
Kyle Korver finished with nine points and four assists in Monday's win over the Nuggets. He knocked down 3 of 5 three-point attempts on Monday and finished the trip 10 for 22 overall.
For the season, the is converting three-point attempts at a 37 percent rate which isn't a bad number except that Kyle Korver has set the bar considerably higher in recent seasons. Korver's three-point percentage is at 39 percent from January which still isn't great by Korver standards but it is a major improvement from the 29 percent mark that he put up in December.
Hawks hold steady in tightly contested East
Atlanta's 2-2 record on their road trip puts them at 27-19 on the season and in sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have gone 6-4 over their last 10 and are 5.5 games back of Cleveland who remains on top and three back of Toronto who has quietly put together an eight-game winning streak.
The rest of the East remains tightly jumbled as just three games separate Atlanta from eighth place Indiana.
|1. Cleveland Cavalers||31||12||0.0|
|2. Toronto Raptors||29||15||2.5|
|3. Atlanta Hawks||27||19||5.5|
|4. Chicago Bulls||25||19||6.5|
|5. Boston Celtics||25||21||7.5|
|6. Detroit Pistons||24||21||8.0|
|7. Miami Heat||24||21||8.0|
|8. Indiana Pacers||23||21||8.5|
|New York Knicks||22||24||10.5|
Although the Hawks have maintained their standing in the East, they missed out on a golden opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. Each of Atlanta's last eight opponents had a sub .500 record but the Hawks could only manage to go 4-4 over that span. Granted, six of those games were on the road but if Atlanta hopes to separate themselves from the rest of the pack in the East, they have to figure out how to win those types of games.