Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/6

Game 1: Tuesday, December 6th
Game 2: Sunday, December 18th

Hawks 116

(2-15, 1-9 away)

Nuggets 125

(10-9, 8-3 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:00 PM ET, December 6, 2005

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    ATL 22 34 30 30116
    DEN 32 32 24 37125

    Top Performers

    Atl: A. Harrington 35 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    Den: M. Camby 24 Pts, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 5 Blk

    Four Denver players score 20 or more in victory

    DENVER (AP) -- With a six-game road trip looming and the NBA's worst team limping into town, this had all the makings of a game Denver might not have been ready for.

    The Nuggets weren't. They wound up having to fight to the finish Tuesday night for a 125-116 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that caused coach George Karl to question his team's character.

    "I think great teams have a professional attitude, and it doesn't matter who you are playing," Karl said. "We don't do that. We play down to our (competition) sometimes, and we get bored with playing well."

    Andre Miller had 21 points and 14 assists, Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and Marcus Camby had 24 points, 12 rebounds and two key blocks down the stretch. Denver needed all that, plus 20 points from Earl Boykins, plus a shutdown defensive performance from Greg Buckner in the fourth quarter to move back over the .500 mark, at 10-9

    "It's a win and it goes on your record," was the nicest thing Karl could say about it.

    Al Harrington had a season-high 35 points for Atlanta.

    The Hawks (2-15) came into the game with the league's worst record and showed up only about 90 minutes before tip-off after getting slowed down by a Rocky Mountain snowstorm -- not the typical equation for the competitive, run-and-gun game this turned out to be.

    But with 1:30 left, the Hawks rebounded Anthony's miss and had a chance to tie. Josh Childress (14 points) drove into the paint and tried to get a shot off, but Camby blocked it into Anthony's hands and he passed to Boykins, who converted a three-point play to make it 121-116.

    On Atlanta's next possession, Camby swatted Harrington's shot and Miller made a layup on the other end to seal the win.

    Next comes Denver's first major road trip of the season, an Eastern swing that starts Friday at Miami.

    "Coach got on us at halftime about our approach and let us know that we have a six-game road trip coming up and we need to play better," Camby said. "I don't think we took a major step toward that, but we did get it going a little."

    Indeed, there was more to worry about than celebrate after this one.

    Among the key issues -- Kenyon Martin, who left at halftime with a sore left knee and didn't return.

    To add to the angst, the Hawks weren't even at full strength. They were missing starter Josh Smith, who served the first of a two-game suspension for elbowing Raja Bell of the Suns in the head in a game Sunday.

    "We missed him a lot," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We missed his shot-blocking."

    Even without him, Atlanta was in it all the way through this one.

    Tyronn Lue finished with 16 points and eight assists and made a pair of 3-pointers late in the third to keep the Hawks within striking range. Royal Ivey played scrappy ball and finished with 14 points.

    Meanwhile, Harrington was unstoppable at times -- posting up, hitting 3s and dominating the game, especially in a third-quarter stretch in which he scored nine straight for the Hawks to keep them within five points.

    "We never look like a team with our record," Harrington said. "We come out and fight. We might have had two games when we didn't. We compete and fight to the end. But we have to start winning these games to show growth."

    The Hawks never could take the lead, in part because of the defensive play of Buckner. Inserted into the starting lineup to provide a spark, Buckner did most of his damage in the fourth quarter, making three steals and stopping Atlanta's momentum time and again.

    His first pick came with about 8 minutes left. He got a three-point play off that to put Denver ahead 105-96. He made two more later in the period and was also largely responsible for holding Joe Johnson, Atlanta's leading scorer this season, to only nine points. Then, midway through the fourth, he volunteered to cover Harrington and shut him down, too.

    Another big difference: Denver went 19-for-20 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, compared to 4-for-6 for Atlanta, a prime example of good teams making plays and getting calls that poorer ones don't in crunch time.

    "I don't know what I can do," Woodson said. "I think we get fouled and there's no calls. I don't know what you can do. It's ridiculous if you ask me."

    Game notes

    The Hawks fell to 0-8 when Smith is not in the starting lineup. ... Anthony passed Mike Evans for 22nd on the Nuggets all-time scoring list.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 116 125
    FGM-FGA 43-88 (.489) 44-75 (.587)
    3PM-3PA 7-13 (.538) 1-7 (.143)
    FTM-FTA 23-27 (.852) 36-39 (.923)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-33 12-39
    Assists 30 29
    Turnovers 15 21
    Steals 10 8
    Blocks 5 10
    Fast Break Points 15 38
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 32 (0/0) 24 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 2 14

    Top Performers

    Al Harrington Harrington
    Points: 35
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 2
    Marcus Camby Camby
    Points: 24
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 5