The Hawks let an eight-point fourth-quarter lead slip away and handed the Nuggets their first win of the season 109-107 Thursday night at Pepsi Arena.
The Hawks started the fourth quarter with a 14-7 run to take their seemingly comfortable lead. However, the Nuggets came storming back with a 17-4 run, punctuated by Ty Lawson’s 3-pointer with 58.8 seconds remaining, for a 107-102 lead.
The Hawks got a basket from Jeff Teague and two free throws from Paul Millsap to close within a point. Lawson made one free throw with 23.1 seconds left. After the Hawks missed twice in the paint, Millsap was fouled and went to the line with 8.2 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and made the second to make it 108-107. Nate Robinson made one of two free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining giving the Hawks one final chance.
Millsap missed a jumper and Al Horford missed a jumper off the rebound and the buzzer sounded on the Hawks.
The Hawks (2-3) lost their seventh straight game, and ninth out of 10, in Denver.
Millsap had his best game in a Hawks uniform. He finished with 28 points and nine rebounds. Al Horford (21 points), Kyle Korver (16), Jeff Teague (14) and DeMarre Carroll (10) were the other double-digit scorers for the Hawks. Teague had a double-double with 11 assists.
The Nuggets (1-3) were led by Lawson led with 22 points
Korver extended his streak to 78 consecutive games with a 3-pointer, tied for the third-longest in NBA history with Dennis Scott. He is one Michael Adams for second place on the all-time list.
The Hawks took an 84-83 lead into the decisive fourth quarter. The third quarter featured six lead changes and four ties. Millsap had 11 third-quarter points for the Hawks.
The Nuggets took a 54-52 lead into intermission after a back-and-forth first half. The Hawks led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter. The Nuggets led by as many as nine points in the second quarter.
Millsap had 15 points and seven rebounds at the half for the Hawks. The Nuggets’ Ty Lawson, who entered the game 19th in the NBA in scoring average at 20.5 points per game, was held to just five points.
Despite the Nuggets entering the game without a victory, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said he most concerned with his team.
“No matter what the situation or circumstance we are trying to make the focus on us,” Budenholzer said before the game. “We do what we do. I think maybe that is some way helpful to them but in the heat of the moment, in the heat of the battle, a lot of those things (don’t matter).”
The Hawks concluded the three-game western road trip 1-2. They return home to play the Magic Saturday.