Notebook: Hawks 108, Nuggets 104

Posted Dec 6, 2012 12:12 AM

By Matt Winklejohn, for

THE FACTS: Al Horford turned in his third consecutive double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds, and the Hawks broke a 101-all tie in the final minute on the way to a 108-104 win Wednesday over the visiting Nuggets.

Atlanta snapped a four-game losing streak to Denver dating back to Nov. 7, 2009, as Josh Smith added 16 points and 13 rebounds on his 27th birthday and the Hawks (10-5) beat the Nuggets (9-10) at their own game despite a brilliant night by Denver point guard Ty Lawson.

He had a season-high 32 points, hit all five of his 3-pointers and added seven assists and five steals, yet the Hawks beat the Nuggets in key metrics.

Denver entered the game No. 1 in the NBA in offensive rebounding (15.4 per game), No. 1 in second-chance points (18.4 pg) and No. 1 in points in the paint (53.7 pg), but Atlanta won all three categories.

The Hawks had 19 offensive caroms to Denver's 11, out-scored the Nuggets 20-19 on second chances, and carried the paint 56-50.

Atlanta coach Larry Drew started a small lineup, but frequently deployed three bigs at a time and they helped limit Denver forward Kenneth Faried to three offensive boards. Atlanta out-rebounded the Nuggets -- the NBA's No. 2 overall rebounding team -- 47-40.

Denver starters other than Lawson, who was 12-for-16 from the field, shot just 30.3 percent as leading scorer Andre Iguodala scored five points on 2-for-10, Faried was 2-for-8 and Danilo Gallinari was 3-for-10. Corey Brewer scored 19 off the bench.

On the plus side, Denver center Timofey Mozgov grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds in his first start of the season. Kosta Koufos missed the game with flu-like symptoms.

Atlanta's bench was big as center Zaza Pachulia had all 11 of his points and all six of his rebounds in the first half to help the Hawks to a 55-51 lead.

Guard Lou Williams played 20 minutes off the bench in the second half, when he scored 11 of his 16 and registered four of his six assists for the Hawks.

QUOTABLE: "[That] is the No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the league, and we made a conscious effort of boxing out. I think after watching that long video of us not boxing out [in Friday's loss to] Cleveland, it kind of paid off tonight. We were able to match their physicality."
-- Josh Smith.

THE STAT: +16 -- The Hawks got of 16 more shots than Denver, going 42-for-95 (44.2 percent) thanks to a plus-seven edge in rebounds and a plus-six edge in turnovers. Atlanta scored 20 points off the Nuggets' 20 turnovers. Denver scored 13 off the Hawks' 14 miscues. Iguodala had seven turnovers.

TURNING POINT: Denver grabbed the lead briefly with an 8-2 run to open the second half with Lawson 3-pointers on the Nuggets' first two possessions.

The Hawks countered to go up by as many as 11, and led until Gallinari made two free throws with 2:34 left in the game, and again when Lawson hit his last trey for a 101-99 Denver edge with 2:00 to go.

Horford hit a jumper for a tie, and soon grabbed the rebound when Faried missed a 17-footer to set up the defining sequence.

Williams drove the left side of the lane with just under a minute left, and Mozgov hammered him.

After Williams made two free throws, the Nuggets were going for another tie when Lawson dribbled the ball off his foot, Josh Smith scooped it up as it rolled toward center court, and raced for a dunk plus a free throw for a 106-101 lead with 31 seconds left in the game.

Denver had six turnovers in the fourth period, three in the last 1:21.

QUOTABLE II: "Tonight, we didn't have a lot of guys with a lot of confidence . . . I feel bad for [Lawson]. He was the best player on the court for most of the night until his two turnovers at the end. He had a big-time game . . . but we need somebody else to jump in and play well, too."
-- Nuggets coach George Karl.

HOT: Smith is averaging 19.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.0 steals over the past three games. . . . Brewer has scored 19 points in back-to-back games, including Monday's Denver win over the Raptors. After shooting 8-for-15 Wednesday, he's shot 17-for-30 in the past two. . . . Denver reserve post man JaVale McGee had his fifth consecutive double-digit scoring game with 11 points on 5-for-8 shooting. He's averaged 11.8 points in that stretch, shooting 65.6 percent (21-for-32). . . . Devin Harris has at least two steals in three straight games after picking off three Wednesday. He's also shot 10-for-15 in the past two games -- both starts. . . . Horford made his only free throw attempt, and has gone 7-for-9 in the past three games. That's significant because he was 1-for-12 in the three games before that. He added four assists and four steals to Wednesday's double-double. . . . Atlanta's DeShawn Stevenson, who started at small forward, shot 3-for-5 from distance and has gone 7-for-11 on 3-pointers in the past two games -- both starts. . . . Lou Williams has scored in double digits in four straight games, averaging 17.3. He's gone 17-for-17 from the free throw line in that time. . . .

T: Iguodala is 3-for-19 in the past two games from the field with nine total points. He is Denver's second-leading scorer with a 14.4-point average. Gallinari leads (15.6). . . . Faried is still shooting 54.7 percent for the season, but in the past two games he's 7-for-19. . . . Gallinari is 13-for-33 over the past three games. . . .

GOOD MOVE: Drew's decision to play starting point guard Jeff Teague sparingly in the second half worked. Teague in the first half had four points on 2-for-9 shooting with two assists and two turnovers in 14:41 while struggling to contain Lawson (15 points, five assists in the first half).

Williams subbed in for Teague just 90 seconds into the second half, and although he wasn't always matched up on Lawson (Harris was in that spot more often) and nobody really slowed Ty, Williams had four assists in the second half and kept getting to the free throw line (6-for-6) to offset 1-for-8 shooting while playing 20:12 in the half to 14:17 for Teague and 14:01 for Harris.

ROOKIE REPORT: The Hawks called up guard John Jenkins from Bakersfield of the D-League, but he did not play. In his past two games with the Jam, the rookie from Vanderbilt scored 22 and 29 points.

NOTABLE: Guard-forward Kyle Korver missed his second straight game (back spasms), and would not have played even if his back wasn't an issue. He was at an Atlanta hospital Wednesday as he and his wife are expecting their first child. . . . This kicked off a five-game road trip for Denver, which has played 13 of 19 games on the road already. . . . Atlanta tied a season high with seven players scoring at least nine points. . . . With one blocked shot, Horford tied Cliff Levingston for ninth place (371) in franchise history. . . . The Nuggets are 1-6 when trailing at halftime. . . . Koufos, who started at center in Denver's first 18 games, stayed at the team hotel with flu-like symptons.

UP NEXT: For the Nuggets, Friday @ Pacers, Sunday @ Knicks, Tuesday @ Pistons. For the Hawks, Friday vs. Wizards, Saturday @ Grizzlies, Monday @ Heat.