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Atlanta Hawks start fast in win over Nuggets

The Atlanta Hawks avoided a slow start Wednesday night and the result was another victory over the Denver Nuggets.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks didn’t have to worry about a slow start Wednesday night in a 117-106 win over the Denver Nuggets. Slow starts have been common place of late for the Hawks but they didn’t waste any time on Wednesday busting out of the gate with a 39-point first quarter on their way to a 72-point first half.

“It was a good first half, to start out with the positive,” Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the game. “We had 72 points and I thought the energy and the activity was good.”

However, Atlanta once again showed consistency issues. They came out a little flat after halftime allowing the Nuggets to cut the deficit to just 11 points heading to the fourth. Denver closed to within four points in the fourth but the Hawks closed with an 8-1 spurt to bring home the victory.

“In the third quarter, we turned the ball over after basically playing the first half with only one turnover....decision making....it just didn’t feel like we were together on either end of the court in the third quarter,” Budenholzer added. “We did just enough in the fourth quarter to pull out a win. I think we have to be better for 48 minutes.”

Atlanta finished the game with just 11 turnovers which is well under their season average. However, seven of those came in the third quarter and helped allow the Nuggets to get back in the game.

“I like the way we took care of the ball,” Budenholzer said of the team’s overall effort offensively. “We were moving it, we were playing fast, we were getting out in transition. Guys were sharing it. A lot of assists. They really were going hard to the offensive boards. It’s kind of a battle when they’re sending that many guys and putting that much pressure on the offensive boards — if we could get the rebound, we felt like we could get out in transition.

Denver finished the game with a slight edge on the glass 49-48 but racked up 21 offensive rebounds and 20 second-chance points.

The Hawks were instead able to take advantage of little to no defensive resistance from the Nuggets who are ranked dead last in the league in defensive rating. Seven different Atlanta players scored in double figures led by Dennis Schröder’s 24 points. The Hawks shot 51 percent for the game and piled up 31 assists on 47 made baskets.

“It was great. I think we had 31 assists as a team. When we play like that we’re tough to beat,” Kent Bazemore said. “Everybody was involved. I think we played well for three quarters.”

“Thirty-one assists, that’s impressive. the ball was moving, guys are ready to make shots. Everyone was locked in. It was translating. That synergy was good tonight. We were a good team for most of the game, but we have to continue to get better and put teams away.”

Next up for the Hawks is a west coast trip that will carry them into the All-Star break. Atlanta plays in Sacramento on Friday.