With Dwight Howard out again, Paul Millsap stepped up and delivered for the Atlanta Hawks.
Millsap capped a 9-0 run in the final 1:43 with two free throws and the Hawks rallied to beat the Denver Nuggets 109-108 on Friday night.
Dennis Schroder had 27 points and Millsap finished with 20 points and eight rebounds for the injury-depleted Hawks.
Atlanta played its third straight game without Howard because of lower back stiffness. Kyle Korver also was unavailable and Tim Hardaway Jr. was nursing an injured groin. Still, the Hawks won their fourth straight on the road.
”We dug deep,” Millsap said. ”We were without three of our top-minute guys and we were able to get the win. It means a lot but it means nothing if we don’t take it to the next game.”
The Nuggets led 108-100 but Atlanta scored seven straight points from the line to make it a one-point game with 42.8 seconds left. One of the free throws came after Denver coach Michael Malone was hit with a technical.
Schroder made the free throw, and Thabo Sefolosha sank two more to pull the Hawks within 108-107.
”Obviously, the technical was a big play. I apologized to our team,” Malone said. ”I did not realize what I said was something you could get a technical for. I think it’s a slightly ridiculous call, considering the time and score of the game.”
Wilson Chandler missed on the other end, and Millsap was fouled on the baseline by Darrell Arthur. He calmly hit two free throws with 6 seconds remaining to put Atlanta ahead.
”You never know in this league how you can win games,” Millsap said. ”Tonight we were able to do it through free throws and being aggressive, getting rebounds and frustrating their coach to get a technical. We found a way to win.”
Chandler missed a runner in the lane and Millsap got the rebound to seal the win.
”We got some tough calls, some questionable calls, and we didn’t execute down the stretch,” Chandler said. ”I had a good look at the end it just didn’t go down.”
Danilo Gallinari had 21 points and a season-high 11 rebounds for the Nuggets. Chandler had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Emmanuel Mudiay scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Mudiay hit four straight foul shots to put Denver ahead 108-100 before the Hawks started getting to the line to spark their comeback.
”Give them credit, they just made the plays at the end and we didn’t,” Denver guard Will Barton said.
Hawks: Coach Mike Budenholzer said he doesn’t think Hardaway’s groin injury suffered Monday will be a long-term situation. … Korver was ruled out just before the game because of illness.
Nuggets: Jusuf Nurkic did not play and has fallen out of the rotation. He has not played the past two games and has logged only 13 total minutes in the last four games overall. … Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with six assists.
WORKING HIS WAY BACK
Budenholzer sounded optimistic that Howard would not miss many games. The Hawks left him home for the game in Denver to expedite his recovery.
”I’d actually say he’s going in the right direction,” Budenholzer said. ”Part of not traveling was hoping that we could keep it going in the right direction and probably be extra cautious, extra conservative or conservatively aggressive. I think we’re all hopeful he’ll be able to play very soon. We’ll see between now and the 26th.”
Hawks: At Minnesota on Monday night.
Nuggets: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.