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Hawks stumble in Denver, falling 126-102 to the Nuggets

The Hawks got smacked around by the Nuggets in the fifth game of Atlanta’s eight-game West Coast road trip

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

On Sunday night, the Atlanta Hawks were in the Mile High City playing against the Denver Nuggets. The Hawks entered with an impressive 8-2 record in their ten previous games, and were coming off a thumping of the Steph Curry-less Warriors. Denver had also performed well over the previous ten games with a 7-3 record of their own, defeating the Pelicans on Friday evening. Aaron Gordon made his debut with the Nuggets, after being traded from Orlando during this week’s Trade Deadline.

The Hawks were only able to keep up with Denver’s potent offense for the first quarter, but ultimately were unable to recover from a devastating run by the Nuggets in the middle of the second quarter; the Hawks lost the game 126-102, trailing for the majority of the evening.

The first quarter started with both teams trading baskets, the Hawks were able to knock down a few good shots, and John Collins continued to show his scoring touch on this road trip.

Both teams hit shots early, but did not demonstrate that same intensity on defense. However, that did result in some fantastic offense on a side 34 screen and roll between Collins and Snell, leading to a nice Capela finish inside.

The first quarter ended 35-31 in favor of the visiting Hawks. Offense was the name of the game, with Atlanta shooting 13/22 (59.1%) from the field to Denver’s 14/23 (60.9%). It was distance shooting that separated the teams, as the Hawks hit six three-pointers out of nine attempts, while the Nuggets managed only two three’s on seven attempts.

It was the Nuggets defense that found its rhythm first, causing the Hawks to miss four of their first five shots to start the second quarter. Meanwhile, JaMychal Green found soft spots in the Hawks second unit, scoring eight straight points and giving the Nuggets a 43-40 lead.

The Hawks offense caught fire again, however, in the middle of the quarter as they hit another three three-pointers through six and a half minutes in the quarter. It was a Huerter three-pointer giving the Hawks the lead at 49-45 that triggered a Nuggets timeout with 5:34 left in the second.

But, coming out of the timeout the Nuggets immediately went on a 13-0 run putting them up 58-49.

The teams traded baskets through the end of the second quarter with the Nuggets taking a 65-55 lead into the half.

The Hawks’ offense fell back to Earth, shooting merely 21/41 (51.2%) from the field in the first half. But the Nuggets hot shooting was not abated, finishing the half shooting 29/48 (60.4%), they shot 15/25 (60%) in the second quarter alone. Gallinari led all Hawks scorers with ten points, while Will Barton contributed 12 points for Denver.

The Nuggets domination of the Hawks offensively did not stop in the second half, as they immediately ripped of a 10-2 run, triggering a Hawks timeout at the 9:29 mark and an 18-point lead at 75-57.

The rest of the third quarter did not see any improvement for the Hawks. The quarter finished at a score of 97-79, with the Hawks never really mounting any kind of an effort, and the Nuggets shooting 12/25 (48%) in the third quarter.

Anyway, here’s a lob from Young to Capela.

The fourth quarter continued on much like the previous quarter and a half of the game. The Hawks scored only one point in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, including four turnovers.

The Nuggets broke 90 points in this game with a minute and a half left in the third quarter. The Hawks reached 90 points with four minutes left in the fourth quarter on a Nathan Knight free throw.

Brandon Goodwin and Nathan Knight made their way into the game at the 6:37 mark in the fourth quarter with the score at 107-84.

The rest of the game failed to offer any entertainment for Hawks fans as the Nuggets stretched out a lead that exceeded 30 points for most of the final minutes of the fourth.

Trae Young finished with 21 points, seven assists, and five rebounds, leading all Hawks scorers. JaMychal Green scored 20 points for the Nuggets, who had six players reach double digits in scoring.

Up next for the Hawks is a road tilt against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday evening.