With their playoff hopes once seemingly in free fall, the Atlanta Hawks are content to earn victories any way they can.
After coming out on top in two close games against lackluster foes, the Hawks will try to keep their momentum heading in the right direction by recording their longest win streak in nearly three months Saturday night against the Denver Nuggets.
Atlanta (28-35) dropped from third in the Eastern Conference to eighth during a 1-14 stretch. The Hawks may have ended those woes with a 112-110 win in Utah on Monday and a 102-97 victory against Milwaukee in its return from a season-high, six-game trip Thursday.
The Hawks didn't put away the team with the league's worst record until scoring 15 of the game's final 23 points. Jeff Teague had six of his team-best 22 points in that stretch and Kyle Korver had seven of his 15.
"The last two haven't been pretty, but they're wins and it's two in a row so we're going to try to build on that," Korver said. "The first game back after a (long) road trip is notoriously a trap game, and I think we fell for it a bit in the first half and didn't come out with the right energy and focus, at least I didn't."
The win kept Atlanta 3 1/2 games ahead of New York for the East's final playoff spot. The Hawks will try at least to maintain that advantage by earning a third consecutive victory for the first time since Dec. 20. The Knicks play Milwaukee on Saturday afternoon.
Atlanta lost 109-107 its only other matchup with Denver this season Nov. 7 at the Pepsi Center. Ty Lawson scored 10 of his 23 points helping the Nuggets rally from an eight-point deficit in the final 6:40.
Paul Millsap had 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 10 rebounds for the Hawks. He scored 23 points in his third game back from a sore knee Monday and 17 versus Milwaukee.
Kenneth Faried, meanwhile, has provided high-scoring performances in back-to-back wins for the Nuggets. He had 26 points in a 120-112 victory over Orlando on Wednesday and 24 in a 111-107 win against Miami on Friday.
The Nuggets nearly squandered a 12-point lead with less than four minutes to go but hung on for their fourth win in six games after dropping 11 of the previous 12.
"We were able to withstand their runs, especially coming down the stretch," coach Brian Shaw said. "We made the plays that we needed to make. I'm proud of them. It was a complete team effort."
In the finale to a five-game trip, Shaw's club will seek its longest road win streak since a season-high, four-game run Nov. 25-Dec. 3.
Denver has dropped four of five in Atlanta and lost 108-104 in its most recent visit Dec. 5, 2012. Lawson scored 32 points on 12-of-16 shooting in that game and is averaging 23.5 points on 64.8 percent shooting in his last four matchups with the Hawks.
The Hawks might get reserve point guard Lou Williams back after missing Thursday's win due to personal reasons.
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