Denver Nuggets 105, Atlanta Hawks 96: Three Takeaways
Boosted by the return of their reigning MVP, the Denver Nuggets extended their winning streak to four games with a 105-96 victory over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night. Nikola Jokić finished with a triple-double, while Aaron Gordon chipped in with a season-high 23 points.
The two teams traded buckets throughout the opening minutes, but Denver eventually took a 17-12 lead at the midway point of the first quarter, fueled by nine points from Jokić. Both teams lived in the paint in the first quarter, with the Nuggets securing a 24-18 advantage from that area of the floor on their way to building a 32-25 lead after 12 minutes. Atlanta coughed it up six times in the opening frame, which led directly to eight points for Denver.
Early foul trouble hurt Denver to begin the second quarter. Atlanta was in the bonus within the first two minutes of the quarter, which helped the Hawks regain the lead at 36-34. The Nuggets went cold throughout the first seven minutes of the frame as Atlanta extended the lead to 41-36. As the starters checked back in for both teams, Denver regained momentum and the lead, which was 49-46 at the break.
A quick 7-0 run from the Nuggets pushed the lead to double-digits at 56-46. Denver’s starters continued to thrive against Atlanta’s starting unit, carrying over the trend from the first half. However, Atlanta responded with a 10-4 to get within striking distance again. The Nuggets responded with another 7-0 run to secure a 10-point lead once again late in the quarter. That was the margin heading into the fourth quarter, with Denver holding on to a 79-69 advantage.
Denver opened the final quarter with a 5-0 run to push the lead to 15 points as Bones Hyland got going offensively. Hyland fueled Denver’s offense throughout the majority of the quarter, finishing with 11 points in the frame as the Nuggets maintained a double-digit lead down the stretch.
Here are three takeaways from Friday’s win.
The return of the MVP
Jokić picked up right where he left off earlier in the week, as the Serbian big man was in complete control throughout Friday’s contest. After dropping 15 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in first half, Jokić finished with 22 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The reigning MVP was dominant throughout, mixing his usual blend of scoring, playmaking, and rebounding to fuel Denver’s offense.
Gordon does it all
Aaron Gordon had perhaps his best all-around game of the season Friday night. The 26-year-old forward did a little bit of everything on both ends of the floor against Atlanta, finishing with 23 points, four assists, three blocks, and two steals in his 34 minutes of action.
With Michael Porter Jr. still out, Denver will continue to rely on Gordon to shoulder a slightly larger role on the offensive end while providing the elite defense that Nuggets fans have become accustomed to seeing from him.
Hyland’s career night
The fourth quarter was all about Denver’s rookie guard.
After having a relative quiet night through three quarters, the 21-year-old guard exploded during the final frame, dropping 11 points as he caught fire from downtown. Hyland finished with 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists in his 21 minutes of action, continuing to make his case for a main spot in the team’s rotation.
Denver is back in action Sunday night against the Portland Trail Blazers (6 p.m. MT).