Denver remains hot, tops AtlantaMar 17, 2011 - 2:12 AM Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) - Nene posted 20 points and seven rebounds as Denver remained hot with a 102-87 victory over Atlanta at Philips Arena.
J.R. Smith and Arron Afflalo both had 15 points for the Nuggets, who have won four in a row and seven of their last eight.
Wilson Chandler posted 14 points and 10 rebounds in the win as Kenyon Martin chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds.
"This is the best we've been playing all year, there's no question," Nuggets head coach George Karl said. "I think we're all serious and focused. The other team can't know what we're going to do because we don't know what we're going to do."
Zaza Pachulia came off the bench to donate 19 points and 10 boards for the Hawks, who have dropped five of their last seven games. Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford both ended with 13 points, while Smith also grabbed nine caroms.
The Nuggets lost an 11-point lead in the third quarter and the Hawks cut it three early in the fourth. However, Denver caught fire midway through the final frame, stretching the margin to as much as 17 on a blazing 66.7 percent shooting.
J.R. Smith tallied all 15 of his points during the quarter on 6-of-7 shooting -- three of those shots came from long distance. The seven-year pro's jumper finished a quick six-point burst with 4:17 left to give Denver a comfortable 93-77 lead.
The Nuggets cruised the remainder of the game to capture the win.
"It's tough," Crawford said. "We had a chance there in the first half. We were playing well. I think in the fourth quarter we cut it to three. After that it kind of got away from us."
Trailing by six in the early stages of the first quarter, Atlanta fought back to take a 20-17 lead after 12 minutes of play.
The Hawks grew the margin to 12 points early in the second quarter thanks to a nine-point burst. Crawford's three-pointer ended the flurry and the Nuggets charged right back, scoring nine-straight themselves to cut it back three points.
A few moments later, Ty Lawson had a driving layup and then a 1-of-2 showing from the free throw line to knot it at 36. He then hit a floater with time running out to put Denver up 46-42 at the half.
The Nuggets grew the lead to 10 a little over two minutes into the second half on Afflalo's trey. They pushed the lead to 11 four times during the rest of the quarter and took a 72-63 advantage into the final quarter.
The Nuggets had lost three straight and 18 of their last 20 trips to Atlanta...Denver swept the season series between the two teams...Lawson finished with nine points and 10 assists... Joe Johnson scored 12 points in the loss.
- DENVER: 102
Mar 16 9:16 PM
- DENVER: 72
End of 3rd
Mar 16 8:46 PM
- DENVER: 46
Mar 16 8:06 PM
- DENVER: 17
End of 1st
Mar 16 7:35 PM
- DENVER: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Mar 16 7:12 PM
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