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Hawks obliterated in 138-93 loss to Nuggets

Ugly from the outset.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Denver Nuggets Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Before Thursday’s game even tipped off, it was a difficult recipe for the Atlanta Hawks. In addition to a talent advantage for the home team in the Denver Nuggets, Lloyd Pierce and company entered this contest without Taurean Prince and Dewayne Dedmon (in addition to John Collins and Justin Anderson), deploying a short-handed group against a superior team. Though it didn’t take 48 minutes to become academic, the Hawks fell flat in a big way, losing by a final score of 138-93.

At the outset, nothing went well for the visiting team, as the Nuggets took a commanding 13-0 (yes, 13-0) lead out of the gate. The Hawks missed their first eight shots and the team did not score until the 7:29 mark of the first quarter, on a layup from Miles Plumlee. It’s never a good sign for a team when their first points come from a player off the bench more than four minutes into the game.

Later in the quarter, the Nuggets used another 7-0 spurt to take a 17-point advantage and the home team threatened to pull away. Atlanta did rally to some degree, though, and one of the brighter spots of the opening period was a gorgeous hook pass from Jeremy Lin to Alex Poythress.

The second quarter, on the whole, was more friendly to the Hawks, including a pretty alley-oop to open the scoring.

The Hawks managed to climb within 10 points in the early stages of the quarter, with one sequence representing a bit of defense turning into offense.

There was another run coming from the Nuggets, though, as Denver outscored Atlanta by a 10-2 margin to take an 18-point lead again. Eventually, the advantage swelled to 20 and, despite a gaffe at the end of the quarter from Denver, the Hawks trailed by 16 points at the break.

Denver converted 62 percent from the field (and 8-of-14 from three) in the opening half, while Atlanta knocked down only 5-of-23 from long distance on the way to 44 percent shooting. In total, the Hawks were effective offensively (109 offensive rating) but the defense was largely ghastly prior to the break and only a 13-point half from Kent Bazemore was particularly notable individually.

Though the 16-point halftime margin was not necessarily insurmountable, things quickly deteriorated in the third quarter. The Nuggets scored seven straight points early in the period to take a 23-point lead and, after a full lineup change from Atlanta in a timeout, the run continued. All told, Denver outscored Atlanta by a 20-3 margin and, when the onslaught came to a close, the game was effectively over with a 33-point spread between the two teams.

By the end of the third quarter, the visitors trailed by 36 and that, as they say, was that. In the fourth quarter, there was a noteworthy moment when Daniel Hamilton took the floor for his first minutes since arriving in Atlanta but, aside from that, both teams simply played out the string on the way to the 45-point final margin.

From an individual standpoint, there wasn’t much to hold on to, though Bazemore (14 points on eight shots), Lin (16 points, five rebounds, five assists), Carter (11 points) performed admirably.

After a day off for travel on Friday, the Hawks will conclude this four-game road trip against the Indiana Pacers on Saturday evening. Stay tuned.