Hawks-Nuggets Preview

The Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks have historically struggled to win in Denver. But with the Nuggets on the brink of their worst start in 15 years, the Hawks could be poised for a rare victory there.

Atlanta tries to avoid a seventh consecutive road loss to the Nuggets on Thursday night.

The Hawks (2-2) are 11-28 all-time at Denver, losing all six trips since a 98-96 victory Dec. 6, 2006. They've given up an average of 110.5 points during that drought, including a 104-88 defeat last season.

Atlanta, though, is closing a three-game road trip on which it has played fairly well. After a late rally fell short in a 105-103 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Hawks beat Sacramento 105-100 on Tuesday for their first road win despite letting a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter get trimmed to one.

"I feel like any time you go on the road your team gets a little closer," forward Paul Millsap said. "It was a dogfight tonight and everybody had each other's backs so I feel like we got a little closer."

Millsap finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double while Al Horford posted his third straight with 27 and 10. The duo is averaging 36.5 points and 18.8 boards while shooting a collective 54.6 percent from the field. They accounted for 18 of Atlanta's 23 fourth-quarter points against the Kings.

"Paul has a knack for scoring late (in the game)," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "I think both Paul and Al stepped up for us. They are working well off each other."

The Nuggets (0-3) likely have to solve their fourth-quarter issues to avoid their first 0-4 start since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. They struggled late again in Tuesday's 102-94 home loss to San Antonio as they were outscored 30-16 in the final period.

Denver is shooting 31.7 percent in the fourth quarter compared to 42.8 percent in other periods. Tuesday's collapse squandered a season-high 52 points in the first half.

"We didn't sustain that in the fourth quarter. That killed us," coach Brian Shaw said. "We just kind of lost our mind in the fourth quarter."

Shaw, though, did have success with some lineup changes.

Jordan Hamilton, who didn't play in the first two games, scored 11 points and was 3 of 3 from 3-point range after starting in place of Anthony Randolph, who sat out with a sprained ankle. Kenneth Faried had been limited to a reserve role as he recovered from a hamstring injury, but recorded 15 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes while taking over for J.J. Hickson.

Faried and Hamilton could help take some pressure off Ty Lawson, who is averaging a career-high 20.3 points but shooting a career-worst 37.5 percent. Lawson has averaged 23.7 points and 3.7 steals while shooting 68.4 percent in his last three games versus Atlanta.

The Horford-Millsap duo will provide a challenge for Faried after limiting DeMarcus Cousins to 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting Tuesday.

Atlanta's Kyle Korver has hit a 3-pointer in 77 straight games, the fourth-longest streak in NBA history and one shy of tying Dennis Scott for third place. Denver is allowing teams to shoot 44.1 percent from 3-point range.

The Hawks will be without rookie guard Dennis Schroder, who has been suspended for one game for striking Cousins in the groin Tuesday.

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