The Atlanta Hawks barely escaped with a 97-92 win over the Denver Nuggets in front of the home crowd at Philips Arena. At one point, the Hawks were in complete control and had a 21-point lead in the third quarter. However, the Nuggets refused to back down despite being in a deep hole. In fact, late in the fourth quarter they actually had a lead before the Atlanta starters decided to take the game into their own hands and end it.
Usually the Hawks get a much-needed boost from their bench on a nightly basis, but the bench players were nowhere to be found last night. This meant it was up to the starters to get the job done, and they all responded in a big way. All five of them scored in double figures, and three went on to have double-doubles to lead the Hawks to a big win. Paul Millsap led the way, which is something he’s done all season. He scored 24 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, recorded five assists, had two blocks and also managed to get four steals in a game-changing performance.
Without Millsap, Atlanta probably doesn’t win this game. However, as impressive as he was, his teammates were there to help him finish off the Nuggets. Jeff Teague turned in a great game himself as he finished with 15 points and 10 assists, but his defense on Ty Lawson was the real difference maker. Lawson, who is arguably Denver’s best player, struggled shooting the basketball. Teague held Lawson to only two points, which had to come from the free-throw line because he went 0-for-12 from the field.
The real hero was Pero Antic last night. Denver held a 92-91 lead with a minute left after Kenneth Faried‘s free throw. Atlanta didn’t design the play to go to Antic on their offensive possession, but with the ball in his hands and the shot clock running out, he hit an unbelievable shot. The Macedonian stepped back to create some separation and hit a huge two-pointer from just inside the three-point line to give the Hawks a lead they would never lose.