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Hawks blow 21-point lead, escape with win

The Atlanta Hawks got out to an early 10-1 lead and led the Denver Nuggets by as many as 21 points tonight at Philips Arena, but no win is ever easy for Atlanta nowadays. The Hawks let Denver come all the way back and take the lead late in the fourth quarter before making free throws down the stretch to escape with a 97-92 victory.

The win was their third straight game after a 1-14 stretch.

Paul Millsap had 23 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, as the Nuggets were unable to stop him for most of the night. Millsap made 11 of 16 from the line. Kyle Korver finished with 18 points, including 4 of 4 from deep. Pero Antic added 16 points as well. DeMarre Carroll had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as well as four steals.

Kenneth Faried carried Denver tonight in its comeback attempt, with 25 points and 7 rebounds. Ty Lawson had a horrid shooting night (0-12 from the floor) but had 11 assists and nine rebounds.Center J. J. Hickson had a double-double off the bench, with an 11/10 effort.

Turnovers let the game get away from Denver early on, as the Nuggets had 20 turnovers in the game. Rebounding brought the Nuggets back, as Denver outrebounded Atlanta 54-38.

Atlanta kept its lead over the Knicks for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot at 3.5 games (5 in the loss column). The Hawks will face Charlotte on Monday night - a team they currently trail in the East by two games for the 7-seed.