The Denver Nuggets came to Atlanta on the start of a long road trip, while the Hawks were coming off of a loss to Cleveland and were looking to shift their focus to rebounding and tighter defense. Coach Larry Drew told the media that the team watched film where they were not boxing out and dragging on defense. It seems like the film session paid off because the Atlanta Hawks came out in the first half and played good D, that defense generated turnovers and the from the turnovers the Hawks got some transition buckets. Atlanta also grabbed more rebounds than Denver in the first half and all of that allowed them to go into halftime ahead 55-51.
Atlanta's defensive focus continued into the second half as the Hawks forced the Nuggets into turnovers and bad shots and in turn got fast break points. Al Horford was the beneficiary of the transition offense on many occasions as he scored 11 of his 25 points in the third quarter. The Hawks were up by 11 points at one point in the third quarter, but they just were not able to put the Nuggets away.
The major reason that Atlanta could not close the door was Ty Lawson. Lawson kept going to the basket, hitting big shots and putting the team on his back as the Nuggets closed the gap to two points (103-101) with less than a minute to play. It was also Lawson who made a crucial turnover at the end of the game by dribbling off of his foot as the Hawks lured him into a trapping defense. Josh Smith grabbed the ball and went hard to the basket and flushed in an and one as he got fouled by Corey Brewer. Smith's three point play pretty much wrapped up the victory for the Hawks and Josh was able to celebrate his birthday with a win. The final score being in the Atlanta Hawks favor, 108-104.
Atlanta was able to win the rebounding battle 47-40, they scored more points in the paint and they also were able to hold Andre Iguodala to just five points. Denver's energy man Kenneth Faried also only got five points as he stayed in foul trouble, but he did managed to get eight rebounds in the Nuggets loss. Ty Lawson led all players with 32 points, seven assists and five steals. Corey Brewer came off the bench to score 19 points and Danilo Gallinari added 16.
Al Horford led the charge for Atlanta with 25 points, 12 rebounds and four steals. Josh Smith and Lou Williams both scored 16 points for the Hawks, but Smith had 13 boards to go with his and Williams had six assists to add to his stat line. Ivan Johnson (six points) made some big baskets in the fourth quarter for the Hawks and Zaza Pachulia was a big time performer with 11 points in the first half of the game.
Up next for the Atlanta Hawks are the Washington Wizards, who just began to get their taste of winning games as they come off a victory over the Miami Heat.
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