Hawks set for road challenge, visit Nuggets

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks begin a huge, six-game western road trip Wednesday and the first stop is the Pepsi Center, where they'll face the Denver Nuggets.

The Eastern Conference leaders, who are the only NBA team to already clinch a playoff berth, will also visit the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder.

On Monday, the Hawks tallied their 50th victory with a home demolition of the Kings, 130-105.

Kyle Korver hit six of Atlanta's franchise record 20 3-pointers en route to 30 points.

"We have a nice little lead in the standings, but we don't want to regress," said Korver. "Hopefully, we will still win some more games."

The Hawks are 10 1/2 games clear of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for Eastern Conference supremacy.

DeMarre Carroll netted 20 points, all in the first half, while Al Horford and Jeff Teague chipped in 18 points apiece for an Atlanta team that totaled 42 assists, the most in an NBA game this season. Teague led the way with 13 assists.

Paul Millsap had 13 points and five assists for Atlanta, which shot 60.2 percent and made 20-of-36 3-pointers.

A Carroll 3-pointer sparked a 13-2 run which gave the Hawks a 33-20 lead at the end of the first quarter. Atlanta put up 43 points in the second quarter while shooting 68 percent. Teague hit a running jumper off a turnover by Rudy Gay to make it 76-54 at halftime.

The Hawks reached the century mark on a Teague 3-pointer with three minutes left in the third quarter, and they went on to lead by as many as 28 down the stretch.

The Nuggets snapped a two-game losing streak last time out in a 106-78 home drubbing of the New York Knicks on Monday.

Kenneth Faried picked up 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Denver. Wilson Chandler and Will Barton each contributed 17 points with Ty Lawson adding 14 points and six assists for the Nuggets.

"Everyone is contributing in a huge way and I think that's what is helping us do some pretty good things out on the court," said Nuggets guard Randy Foye.

Denver led 55-40 at the break thanks to 11 points from Barton, then put the game away for good in the third period.

Back-to-back triples by Chandler and Lawson boosted the hosts' edge to 65-45 less than 2 1/2 minutes in. Andrea Bargnani's shot with 3:20 remaining pulled the Knicks within 77-59, but New York went cold and Denver scored the final 14 points.

The Hawks beat the Nuggets by 12 in Atlanta on Dec. 7 and have won two in a row in this series. Denver has taken seven straight over Atlanta as the host.