The Atlanta Hawks could finish their season-long seven game road in a way that seemed unfathomable a few days ago: with a winning record.
The long journey home has been arduous for the Hawks, who embarked on a long seven-game road trip to Detroit, New York and the West coast way back on Feb. 14. A lot has changed both to Atlanta and the rest of the league since then. The Hawks, who began the trip by breaking the Palace curse, dropped three straight games before posting victories over the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Along the way, Kobe Bryant won the All-Star Game MVP. The circus came and went from Philips Arena. The Hawks traded for Kirk Hinrich and the Nuggets were involved in a tiny trade that you may have heard about.
Denver shipped some guy named Carmelo Anthony a/k/a the best player ever* to beat the best team ever* in Miami on Sunday for just about every player that was playing a supporting role on the Knicks. So what does this mean for the Hawks? Well, I'm sorry to tell you Hawks fans, you won't get to see Shelden Williams. (Yes, I know you are disappointed). You'll see a bunch of Danilo Gallinari instead. Former Knicks Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and Timofey Mozgov should be there too.
The Nuggets haven't skipped a beat since the trade of Anthony and Chauncey Billups to New York, winning two of three since the trade. However, they suffered a 107-106 loss in overtime to the Blazers in their last game on Friday.
Gallinari posted 30 points and Chandler added 20 for the Nuggets, who blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead.
Atlanta is coming off of a way-too-hard 90-83 win over the Blazers on Sunday night. Atlanta lead by as many as 23 in that one before letting Portland back into it with a near fourth quarter meltdown. The Blazers cut it to as little as six, forcing the Hawks starters to finish the game instead of resting up for the second half of a back-to-back less than 24 hours later.
Jamal Crawford had 23 points and Joe Johnson added 22 for Atlanta, which also got another eight points from Hinrich.
Denver is looking for its fifth straight win at the Pepsi Center, a place where they have had great success this season. The Nuggets are 24-7 at home and have won five straight there over Atlanta, dating back to Dec. 6, 2006.