DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari had 23 points, Will Barton added 16 and the Denver Nuggets beat Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta 115-102 on Wednesday night for their eighth straight home win over the Hawks.
By the end of the third quarter, Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer had seen enough and inserted his bench players, who went on a 24-1 run midway through the fourth quarter to make the score respectable after trailing by 32 with 7:32 remaining. The Hawks haven’t won in the Mile High City since Dec. 6, 2006.
The Nuggets are playing with more emotion and energy under interim coach Melvin Hunt, who’s 4-2 since stepping in after Brian Shaw was fired. What’s more, the team has scored 100 or more points in every game under Hunt.
This wasn’t exactly the way Atlanta wanted to begin a six-game road swing. Although the Hawks have one of the NBA’s top road marks, they’ve dropped two in a row away from home to struggling teams. They also fell in Philadelphia last weekend.
Kyle Korver had 18 points to lead Atlanta. He hit five 3-pointers to give him 1,697 in his career and move him past Kobe Bryant (1,694) for 12th in NBA history.
Denver turned it into a rout with a 45-21 run in the first half. The Hawks’ backups closed the gap by holding the subs for the Nuggets to 5-of-23 shooting in the fourth quarter, but it was a too late.
Under Hunt, the Nuggets have returned to their running ways, pushing the pace at every opportunity to take advantage of the higher altitude. It’s a style reminiscent of Hunt’s mentor, George Karl, who had the team playing that way back when he was in charge of the Nuggets.
“I think Melvin has obviously been under some very good head coaches, taken a little bit from all of them, like all of us do,” Budenholzer said.
Atlanta beat Denver 96-84 in Atlanta on Dec. 7. That was back when Denver had Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee (both now with Portland), along with Timofey Mozgov (traded to Cleveland) and Shaw on the bench.
“I think our chemistry is coming around,” Hunt said.
Hawks: G/F Thabo Sefolosha missed his 17th game with a strained right calf. He could be back on this road swing. … Assistant coach Darvin Ham played 35 games for Denver in 1996-97, averaging 2.3 points. … Backup center Pero Antic (sprained left ankle) was back on the court. He had six points in just under 20 minutes.
Nuggets: Center Jusuf Nurkic (sprained right ankle) may soon be back in the lineup. “I don’t know when we’re going to unleash him, but when we do, he’ll be ready to play,” Hunt said. … Army Staff Sgt. David Fuqua arrived from Liberia to surprise his family at mid-court in the first half. … Ty Lawson had nine of the Nuggets’ 28 assists.
Hawks: At Phoenix on Friday night.
Nuggets: Host Golden State on Friday night.
This article was written by Pat Graham from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.