Hawks beat the Nuggets 108-104 and keep positive energy

If the Hawks (10-5) would have lost Wednesday night against the Denver Nuggets (9-10), it would have been “tough,” according to center Al Horford, as the team was coming from a loss against Cleveland that broke their six-game winning streak.

But Josh Smith’s dunk and free throw with 31 seconds left pretty much sealed the deal as Atlanta held the lead to the end with the momentum on their side, finishing with a 108-104 victory.

“This is a big win for our team,” Horford said. “I know they’re 9-10 but they’re a great team and we needed to get this one here.”

Leading the team with 25 points and 12 rebounds, Horford tallied his third double-double in a row. Smith finished also finished with a double-double. The power forward had 16 points and 13 rebounds.

One of the virtues the Hawks had leading to their victory was their strength on the glass both offensively and defensively. With 47 rebounds over the Nugget’s 40, they ended up out-rebounding the team with the most offensive rebounds in the league.

Hawks coach Larry Drew said, “Tonight our guys took the challenge on the glass and we came out with a big win.”

Rebounding was an area where Atlanta had shown the most fallacies on their loss against Cleveland. Smith said it was one of the aspects the team put focus on and attributed their improvement to a better job at boxing out.

“We have to tip our hats to ourselves,” Smith said. “I think that after watching that long video tape of us not boxing out against Cleveland kind of paid off tonight.”

Another factor that was vital for the Hawks to walk away with a win was the big contributions they obtained off the bench.

“We had some guys that I thought came in and did a really good job,” Drew said.

Guard Lou Williams was an important asset for coach Drew as he finished with 16 points, including knocking down free throws on the last seconds of the game, which ended up being very valuable for Atlanta.

Center Zaza Pachulia also had a good night coming off the bench. The center had 11 points and seven rebounds.

“Zaza did a phenomenal job on the first half,” Drew said. “He’s filling that body all over the place.”

The Hawks will have one more home game against the Washington Wizards on Friday, Dec. 7 before hitting the road to play the Memphis Grizzlies.