Nuggets brew up win over Atlanta

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Kosta Koufos and Denver took a bit longer than expected to turn away Jeff Teague and Atlanta, but the Nuggets eventually pulled away for a 104-88 win.

By Arnie Stapleton
AP Sports Writer

DENVER – Corey Brewer scored 22 points, and Ty Lawson had 18 in the Denver Nuggets’ 104-88 win over the depleted Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

The Nuggets won their 11th consecutive game at the Pepsi Center and matched Miami’s NBA-best 26-3 home record, but for most of three quarters it wasn’t the cakewalk many expected against a banged-up, tired team playing the final game of a six-game trip.

Al Horford scored 18 points for Atlanta, and Josh Smith chipped in 15 points, becoming the 24th player in league history to collect 10,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 2,000 assists and 1,000 blocks. His milestone came on a night when many of his teammates were spectators as the Hawks were without Kyle Korver (toe), Zaza Pachulia (sore right Achilles) and DeShawn Stevenson, who skipped the second game of this back-to-back because of balky knees.

Then, Jeff Teague (15 points) sprained his left ankle in the first quarter, and Ivan Johnson dislocated his left middle finger in the second quarter. Both returned.

Horford’s jumper pulled the Hawks to 63-61 before Lawson hit two free throws and a 26-foot 3-pointer followed by Wilson Chandler’s bucket that made it 70-61 in the third quarter.

The Hawks stayed with the Nuggets, however, keeping it a game until three consecutive baskets by Brewer capped a 10-2 run Denver used to build a 96-79 lead.

This was the final game on a six-game swing that began at Milwaukee on Feb. 23 for the Hawks, who won the first three games of the trip but lost the last three.

“Tired both physically and mentally,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said of his team’s mood before tip-off. “It’s been a long road trip. Fatigue does factor into at this point. I’ve got to somehow pull it out of them in this last game. Down in bodies and having to change the lineup the way I do, hopefully a couple of guys will provide energy early. We’ve got to push through it.”

They hung tough, but Brewer’s fastbreak basket at the end of the third quarter gave Denver an 81-73 lead, and the Hawks didn’t have a fourth-quarter run in them.

Drew said Korver strained his right big toe in Atlanta’s 99-98 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. He stayed in the game, but soreness set in afterward.

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