Nuggets stumble to end of stand
HAWKS 119, NUGGETS 105
The Nuggets giveth, and the Nuggets taketh away.
Saturday’s game had the good stuff: late- game execution to pull out a victory over the Detroit Pistons. Monday night’s contest displayed the frustrating reality of an inconsistent team doing inconsistent things.
The Nuggets lost to the Atlanta Hawks 119- 105 at the PepsiCenter. That snapped Atlanta’s eightgame losing streak in Denver.
“That’s four games in a rownow, I think, that we’ve allowed teams to come in here and get whatever they want on offense,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
From the second quarter on, it wasn’t all that close.
As a result, the Nuggets fin-
ished a wildly inconsistent homestand with four wins and four losses. It began with three wins in four games. It ended with three losses in four games.
“This homestand really is a microcosm of who we’ve been the whole year,” Malone said. “We go 4- 4. I wish it was better. But hopefully we can get right on this road trip.”
At least not many people sawit. One of the smallest crowds this season, officially 10,280, was in the arena.
The second quarterwas a struggle. While Atlanta was cranking up its offense, the Nuggets couldn’t find theirs. Constant ball movement from the Hawks gave the Nuggets fits.
And when the ball wasn’t being whipped around, Hawks guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder were a blur, blowing by their men and getting straight to the basket — or blowing by their men, getting into the lane, collapsing the Nuggets’ defense and dishing to a open cutter.
Both scenarios were bad news for the Nuggets.
“They were doing what they always do— drive, kick, open shot,” Malone said. “Great ball movement. The ball never sticks. Watching them is really fun. They’re a well- coached team, and they play the right way.”
There were some spurts in the second half. The Nuggets appeared they might threaten to get back into the game, but the Hawks always had an answer. Atlanta led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
“They just outplayed us,” guard Will Barton said. “They had us all over the floor, running around.”
The Nuggets hit the road Wednesday for the first time since Jan. 8 for three games against Eastern Conference teams, beginning at Boston against the Celtics.
The Nuggets were led by Barton’s 21 points off the bench. Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris had 15 points apiece, with Jokic adding 10 rebounds. Harris had 10 points in the first quarter. The Nuggets shot 54 percent as a team in the first 12 minutes, but things went downhill from there.
Atlanta, which was playing the final gameof a four- gameWestern Conference road trip, was led by Paul Millsap’s 22 points and nine rebounds. Teague added 12 points and 10 assists.
“The defense was horrible,” Nuggets guard Emmanuel Mudiay said. “We definitely could have comeout therewith better energy.”
Nuggets center Jusuf Nurkic collects a rebound against Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder onMonday night at the Pepsi Center. Doug Pensinger, Getty Images
Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried goes up for a shot against Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford onMonday night at the Pepsi Center. Doug Pensinger, Getty Images