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News » Nuggets-Hawks Preview 2009-11-07

Nuggets-Hawks Preview 2009-11-07

Nuggets-Hawks Preview 2009-11-07The Denver Nuggets are coming off their longest postseason run in 24 years.

The Atlanta Hawks advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season for the first time in a decade.

Neither team looked playoff-ready Friday.

Denver looks to rebound from its first loss of the season Saturday night, when it faces a Hawks team returning home from a disappointing trip.

After pushing the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers to six games in their first Western Conference finals appearance since 1985, the Nuggets opened 2009-10 with their first 5-0 mark since 1985-86.

With the franchise-record 8-0 start within sight, Denver (5-1) fell to Miami 96-88 on Friday. The Nuggets were averaging a league-best 115.4 points.

Carmelo Anthony had 30 points on 12 of 22 shooting, but the Nuggets' other starters hit a combined 6 of 20.

"I'm not going to give anyone an 'A' on this one," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We all have to be disappointed on how we showed up."

If Karl is going to pick up his 939th career victory Saturday and move past Red Auerbach for eighth place on the all-time coaching wins list, he likely won't have forward Kenyon Martin, who left Friday's game in the second quarter with a leg injury.

Karl said Martin could be sidelined for "a week or two."

The Nuggets will also continue to be without guard J.R. Smith, who serves the final game of his suspension Saturday, stemming from his guilty plea for reckless driving in an accident that killed his friend in 2007.

While Denver tries to get its six-game eastern trip back on track, the Hawks (4-2) are hoping to erase bad memories of Friday's 103-83 loss at Charlotte.

Atlanta shot a season-low 39.8 percent from the field and was handed its worst defeat since a 121-97 loss to Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 7.

"Ain't no way (Charlotte) is 20-some points better than us," guard Joe Johnson said after scoring a season-low 13. "It can't continue to go like this."

Johnson, though, continued by calling out his teammates following the Hawks' 2-of-16 effort from 3-point range.

"Everybody who touches (the ball) wants to score," he said. "I really think guys on this team don't know their roles, so it's killing us. And it's going to continue to kill us."

Atlanta, though, looks for its third straight home win. The Hawks were 31-10 at Philips Arena last season when they defeated Miami in seven games for their first playoff series win since 1999.

In Denver's last visit to Atlanta, the Hawks won 109-91 on Dec. 29 behind Johnson's 25 points and 16 points and 10 rebounds from Al Horford.

Anthony picked up a technical foul in that game while scoring 16 points on 4 of 17 shooting. He is averaging 25.0 points and 7.8 boards in six career games in Atlanta.

The Nuggets have lost two in a row and seven of 35 all-time visiting the Hawks. Denver's last victory in Atlanta was 100-87 on Dec. 12, 2006.

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Added: November 7, 2009


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