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Short-handed Nuggets embarrassed in Atlanta

Harrison Wind Avatar
December 9, 2018

Hawks starting power forward John Collins didn’t play in Denver and Atlanta’s first matchup of the season, a 138-93 Nuggets win back on Nov. 15 at Pepsi Center. He made up for lost time Saturday night.

Collins scored a career-high 30 points on an efficient 12-20 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out five assists in the Hawks’ 106-98 win. Atlanta handed the short-handed Nuggets their second-straight loss as Denver ends its five-game road trip, which began with wins over the Trail Blazers, Raptors and Magic, on a sour note.

The Nuggets, who were without three starters — Will Barton (hip/core), Gary Harris (hip) and Paul Millsap, who broke his toe Thursday in Charlotte — didn’t bring much firepower to State Farm Arena. Denver led 56-51 at halftime but got outscored 35-21 in the third quarter. The Nuggets shot just 15-51 (29.4 percent) from the field in the second half as Atlanta hit 9 of its 19 threes over the third and fourth quarters. Over the final 24 minutes of regulation, Denver played like a team on the last leg of a two-week road trip.

Trailing by 101-84 with 5:50 remaining, the Nuggets trimmed the Hawks’ lead to 10 points at the 3:43 mark of the fourth. But that was as close as Denver got.

In its first game without Millsap, Denver turned to Trey Lyles at power forward, but Lyles struggled and tallied just nine points on 2-13 shooting. His night was representative of the Nuggets’ shooting struggles on the evening. As a team, Denver shot 8-34 from three-point range. Malik Beasley (19 points on 7-16 shooting from the field, 3-9 from three) was one of the few Nuggets players to find a rhythm on the offensive end of the floor.

Nikola Jokic had a strong night, finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, but like the rest of his teammates, tailed off in the second half. Jokic scored just seven points across the third and fourth quarters. Jamal Murray, who suffered a right shin contusion late in the second quarter, played through the injury in the second half but wasn’t effective, finishing with just four points on 2-9 shooting, six rebounds and three assists.

Monte Morris added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists off Denver’s bench. Torrey Craig had a solid night, scoring nine points to go with five rebounds. He held Hawks point guard Trae Young to 9 points on 3-12 shooting. Vince Carter chipped in 13 points, while DeAndre’ Bembry had 18.

Battered, bruised and short-handed, the Nuggets return home to host the Grizzlies on Monday.

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