The Atlanta Hawks hope to end their longest road trip of the season on a high note. It may prove to be a difficult task against one of the better home teams in the Western Conference.
The Denver Nuggets seek their fifth straight home victory when they face the Hawks on Monday night.
Denver (34-26) lost for the first time in three games since trading Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chauncey Billups(notes) to New York, falling to Portland 107-106 in overtime Friday. Despite the defeat, the Nuggets have played considerably well to keep pace in the conference standings, in large part due to the performances of their newcomers.
Danilo Gallinari(notes) scored 30 points and Wilson Chandler(notes) added 20 for Denver, which blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead against the Blazers. Gallinari missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of overtime.
“It doesn’t feel good because we lost, but we put up a good fight and had a great effort,” Gallinari said. “It’s tough to lose at the end, but we’ve got to take what’s positive out of it.”
The Nuggets had won two straight after the trade, including an 89-75 victory Thursday against Eastern Conference-leading Boston.
“My thing is, we probably got better (Friday) more than we did (Thursday), and that’s exciting,” coach George Karl told the league’s official website. “You don’t like losing, but as much as (Thursday) was a great win, (Friday) was a good loss.”
Kenyon Martin(notes) sat out Friday because of the flu. Martin got an IV in the locker room during the game against the Celtics and finished with 18 points, but his status against the Hawks is unclear.
A fifth straight win at Pepsi Center would mark Denver’s longest home winning streak since a 10-game run Nov. 5-Dec. 14. The Nuggets are 24-7 at home.
Atlanta should be up to the challenge.
The Hawks have the second-most road victories in the NBA, improving to 19-14 away from home after a 90-83 win Sunday in Portland. Atlanta (36-23) is 3-3 on its season-high seven-game road trip, which began with a victory in Detroit on Feb. 14.
“I think we had more energy (Sunday),” Crawford said. “Our starters set the tone and our bench just picked it up from there. When we get out and we run like we did, we are pretty tough to stop, we get easy baskets. And that’s what we were able to do.”
Josh Smith(notes) added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Kirk Hinrich(notes) had eight points off the bench in his second game with the Hawks. He was acquired Wednesday from Washington in a deal that sent Mike Bibby(notes) to the Wizards.
“Kirk is fitting in nice,” Crawford said. “We have to continue to jell and find our rhythm and finish strong in these last 23 games.”
The Nuggets have won the last five meetings in Denver.