for this game

Anthony, Nuggets pick up rare road win over Hawks

Dec 13, 2006 - 2:53 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Carmelo Anthony and the Denver Nuggets' defense waited until late in the second half to end their road woes in Atlanta.

Anthony scored 26 points and Earl Boykins added 19 as the Nuggets used a decisive run to post a 100-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks, who played without star guard Joe Johnson.

J.R. Smith had 17 points, including 3-of-6 from the arc, for the Nuggets, who shot 49 percent (37-of-75) but held the Hawks scoreless from the field for nearly 10 minutes to pick up their fourth win in six games.

Coach George Karl said Denver's offense was sparked by improved effort on the other end of the court.

"I thought we went from a non-defensive team to a very good defensive team," Karl said. "We were struggling during the early part of the third quarter, but during the later part of the third and into the fourth quarter, we began pressuring the ball and trapping the ball, creating some turnovers. They started to take some bad shots and the offense came our way."

Despite finishing with a losing record for the last seven seasons, Atlanta had won 15 of its last 16 games against Denver on its home floor.

Karl thinks his teams lacks energy in Atlanta's near-empty arena.

"We were playing against a pretty good basketball team on the road in a dead building," Karl said. "This is the NBA, you can get behind early if you don't focus from the tip-off, but we were able to focus down the stretch."

The Nuggets also lost to the Hawks last week in Denver, 98-96.

"It took us a while to get going, but we definitely remembered what these guys did to us last week in Denver, when they stole one from us," Denver center Marcus Camby said. "We had to circle the wagons."

The Hawks were in command, 67-59, with 3:32 left in the third quarter until Denver's defense took control. Denver outscored the Hawks, 31-6, during that span with Atlanta shooting 0-of-17 from the floor. A layup by Solomon Jones with 5:09 left ended the Hawks' drought.

"The biggest difference in the game was getting defensive stops," Boykins said. "In the first half, we weren't getting any stops and they were getting back on defense, which made it hard to score. Once we got the stops, we were able to get the numbers offensively, which led to some easy baskets."

"It was huge to get this win," Boykins said. "Whenever a team beats you on your home court, you have to go out and return the favor. We played much better than we did last week in Denver."

Anthony was 10-of-25 from the field and 5-of-8 from the line. Boykins, who led Denver's bench, shot 8-of-11 and dished out four assists. The Nuggets' reserves netted 41 points.

"The bench was the difference for us, they came in and gave us a spark in the third and fourth quarter," Anthony said. "We were playing our game up and down the court."

The fourth-leading scorer in the NBA at 28.7 points per game, Johnson suffered a strained right calf in Atlanta's 106-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday and is day-to-day.

"I don't know how long Joe is going to be out," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "(The rest of the team) has to step up and play. I'm pulling for Marvin Williams and Josh Smith. They've got to step it up and make plays in the fourth quarter."

Smith scored 21 points and Williams added 10 for Atlanta, which shot 41 percent (35-of-86).

"We played well in the first half," Josh Smith said. "We played totally opposite in the second half. Collectively, as a unit we could have stepped it up on defense and made it harder for them to score. We didn't do that, we gave up easy buckets and a lot of second chance points."

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