ATLANTA (AP)—After a horrible start, it appears that the Atlanta Hawks have found a way to win.
Josh Smith scored on a layup with 42 seconds left in overtime to snap a tie and Tyronn Lue hit a 3-pointer with 5.6 seconds remaining Sunday to clinch the suddenly rejuvenated Hawks’ 110-107 victory over the Denver Nuggets.
Atlanta (6-17) has won two straight and four of five. The Nuggets (12-13), who dressed only nine players due to injuries and played only seven, lost their third straight to match their longest losing streak of the season.
The Hawks, who were 0-9 to start the season, won two in a row then lost seven consecutive games before this run.
“Down the stretch, everybody made big plays,” Lue said.
“We were kind of flat to start the fourth quarter, and when I came back in I just tried to add a spark,” said Smith, who had six points in the fourth period and four in the overtime. “We weren’t worried. Everyone was pretty calm. We shared the ball, made good passes and it got us back in the game.”
Atlanta quickly fell behind 103-98 in overtime, then scored seven straight points, including a 3 by Johnson and a basket by Smith to go up 105-103. Eduardo Najera made two free throws to tie it with 1:01 left.
That’s when Smith, who had 19 points, scored the go-ahead basket. After Carmelo Anthony, who led Denver with 37 points, lost the ball with 27 seconds left, Lue hit a 3 for a 110-105 lead. He was 5-of-6 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points.
Anthony, who also had 11 rebounds, added two free throws with 3.6 seconds left.
“It was a tough game because we only had seven guys. We were very tired, coming off tough games in Cleveland and New Jersey,” Anthony said. “The whole road trip caught up with us today. We came out and played aggressive, but the overtime was just too much for us.”
“They got the job done, and that’s the nice thing about our team now,” Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. “They’re playing, they get down, and they don’t think they’re down. They’re playing to win and that’s what it’s all about.”
Joe Johnson had 30 points and nine assists for Atlanta. After dribbling outside for several seconds, he tied it at 98 with a 5-footer with 4.7 seconds left in regulation.
“I wanted to attack the basket. I didn’t want to settle for a jump shot. I wanted to get as close as I could,” Johnson said.
“Oh, man, we’ve been playing good basketball here of late. We’re knocking down shots and playing defense,” he said. “We need that kind of game from Josh every night. He’s such an athletic guy.”
Atlanta had a chance to win it when Josh Childress intercepted the inbounds pass, but shot too quickly from near half court with almost 3 seconds left and missed.
Anthony scored 11 points in the third quarter, including a dunk with 2 seconds left that gave Denver a 77-75 lead. The Nuggets stretched their biggest lead to 81-75 on baskets by Anthony and Watson.
The four wins in five games is Atlanta’s best stretch since the end of the 2002-03 season when they won four in a row before losing their season finale. No current player was on that team. Atlanta was 13-69 last season and never won two straight games.
The Nuggets beat Atlanta 125-116 on Dec. 6 in Denver. . …Denver’s Earl Boykins (strained hamstring) missed his fourth straight game, Greg Buckner (groin strain) missed his first game, Marcus Camby (sprained finger) missed his third straight game and Kenyon Martin missed his first game with left knee tendinitis.