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Hawks top Nuggets, win sixth straight

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks used a six-game winning streak to move into a tie for first place in the Southeast Division.

Forward Paul Millsap scored 23 points as the Hawks defeated the Denver Nuggets 96-84 on Sunday to improve to 13-6, the same record as the Washington Wizards.

“It’s early, but it definitely motivates us to keep working to keep ourselves in that position,” center Al Horford, who had 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

The winning streak is the longest since the Hawks won six in row in November of 2012.

“We’re starting to understand how to play and build those habits you need,” Horford said.

Forward Wilson Chandler had 29 points and 10 rebounds for Denver (9-11), but the Nuggets couldn’t make it all the way back after a dismal first half.

“The energy wasn’t good (at the start),” Denver coach Brian Shaw said. “When it did get good, it was too late.”

Atlanta, up by 24 points early in the third quarter, won despite shooting 41.4 percent. The Nuggets, though, were just 6 of 35 from behind the arc and shot 36.6 percent.

“That’s way too many (3-point attempts), but I thought we had good looks,” Shaw said. “They just didn’t fall.”

It was the third loss in a row for Denver, which was without four players because of injuries.

The Nuggets got within 87-80, but forward Kyle Korver, who had 15 points, hit a 3-pointer with three minutes left and guard Jeff Teague scored on a drive to get the Hawks out of danger.

“The game was getting where we didn’t want it to go, but we were able to get back in control,” Korver said.

After Denver scored the first five points of the game, the Hawks went on a 10-0 run en route to a 32-21 lead at the end of the first quarter and then kept pulling away in the second.

Atlanta led 57-36 at halftime while committing just one turnover and holding the Nuggets to 31.6 percent shooting.

Nine Hawks scored in the first half, with Korver getting 10 points in the opening quarter.

Atlanta grabbed its biggest lead when Millsap hit a 3-pointer to start the second half, but Chandler led a rally with 12 points as the Nuggets got within 77-66 going into the final quarter.

It was the sixth loss for the Nuggets in their past seven games in Atlanta.

NOTES: Denver F Kenneth Faried, averaging 11.1 and 6.7 rebounds, missed the game with a low back strain, leaving the Nuggets with just 10 players dressed. Denver already had three other players out with injuries — C LaVale McGee (tibia), G Nate Robinson (back) and G Randy Foye (quad). … The Hawks recalled F/C Adreian Payne, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, from Fort Wayne of the NBA Development League and sent F/C Mike Muscala, a second-round pick in 2013, to the Mad Ants. … The Hawks play at Indiana on Monday while Denver concludes its three-game road trip at Toronto.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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