The Denver Nuggets returned to the Pepsi Center after a 0-2 west coast road trip against the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. They hosted the Atlanta Hawks looking to evade their first three-game losing streak of the year. Instead, Denver fell flat on their face and failed to secure what should have been an easy home win.
The first quarter started out at a torrid pace. Both the Nuggets and the Hawks were flying up and down the court and taking shots early in the shot clock. Unfortunately, while Denver started the game strong and clearly was the better team, they were sloppy on offense and failed to close out on Taurean Prince, who proceeded to hit three shots from deep and scored nine of the Hawks’ first 13 points.
Eventually, the Nuggets would lose all energy and effort as the Hawks managed to pull away and finish the quarter 29-21. The energy was lacking so brutally that Malone decided to turn to Kenneth Faried, who has failed to see any court time in 10 of the last 11 Nuggets’ games. The Nuggets’ offense sputtered as they failed to get to the rim and elected to, instead, hoist up fifteen three-pointers in the first quarter. Denver took just nine shots inside the three-point line in the entire first quarter of play.
The second quarter was much of the same. The Nuggets came out looking like the much better team and immediately went on an 8-2 run. Again, just like the first quarter, everything began to fall apart as the effort and energy wavered. Luckily, Jokic remained extremely impactful on the offensive glass as he corralled five offensive rebounds in the second quarter alone but finished the first half an awful 3-15 from the field and an even worse 0-6 from three-point distance. The Nuggets failed to close the gap in the second quarter and went into halftime down 54-46; exactly the same deficit as the end of the first quarter.
The third quarter started as the first and second did; with the Nuggets starting strong and losing energy rapidly. Thankfully, Gary Harris refused to allow the Nuggets to fall apart and put together a highlight-filled third quarter to drag the Nuggets back from the brink. Harris put together a behind-the-back coast to coast transition layup, a reverse hammer-dunk off of a backdoor cut, and just an obscene scoop layup. By the end of the 3rd quarter, Harris was up to 21 points on just 10 attempted shots to go with four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
The Nuggets did outscore the Hawks 32-28 in the third period as the score culminated to 82-78 as Denver still trailed by four points heading into the fourth and final quarter. Joke continued to struggle and failed to get going in any way in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter carried the same issues for the Nuggets as the previous three did. The effort was not there and, when that is combined with Jokic’s awful night, there was almost no recipe for success. Harris did everything he could to steal a win from a Hawks team that outplayed the Nuggets all night but to no avail.
The Nuggets lose to the Hawks by a score of 110-97 and fall to 21-20 on the season after Jokic shot 4-21 from the field for just nine points to go with 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and three blocks. Harris kept the Nuggets within striking distance with 25 points on 11-14 shooting to go with six rebounds, three assists, and two steals but it was not enough.
This is Denver’s first three-game losing streak of the season as they drop games to the Kings, Warriors, and Hawks in that order. Denver stays in the Mile High City to take on the Grizzlies on Friday night looking to break their three-game losing streak.