The Denver Nuggets and Atlanta Hawks both came into tonight on three game losing streaks. Something had to give. The Nuggets were able to get up big early from a huge performance from rookie Julian Strawther. However, DeJounte Murray and Bogdan Bogdanovic carried the load for Atlanta after Trae Young was ejected and got close to completing a big comeback. Ultimately the Nuggets are able to hold on though and get the victory 129-122.

Nikola Jokic hit the first shot of the game which was a good sign but the baskets weren’t coming as easy as you’d like otherwise early on. The game was fast paced though so there was still plenty of scoring. At about the eight minute mark Jamal Murray went down with what looked like an ankle sprain. He got up and tried to walk it off but Reggie Jackson ended up checking in. Clint Capela kept getting buckets down low off offensive rebounds and the Hawks got a lead. Atlanta hit their threes and was disruptive in the passing lanes on defense. Jokic kept Denver within striking distance but nobody else was scoring. Atlanta continued to knock down three after three. If it weren’t for Strawther coming in and hitting shots the Nuggets would be trailing big but after one quarter they were only down 36-28.

Atlanta continued to score at will to open the second quarter while Denver’s bench group struggled to find rhythm on offense. Strawther carried them though on both ends of the court in his best minutes since early in the year. He did so well in fact it made the bench overall a positive in their minutes with the lead down to five when the starters checked back in. He stayed in with the starting unit and kept knocking down threes which was needed because Atlanta wasn’t missing from deep. He tallied nineteen points and four steals in the first half alone in a fantastic performance. When he checked out Denver trailed by just three. The starters kept the heat on to close out the half. Murray and Jokic did most of the damage and got the Nuggets ahead 65-62.

Denver’s starters stayed hot to open the third quarter and grew the lead up to eight. Atlanta still had enough juice on offense to keep the Nuggets from running away with it but the momentum was on Denver’s side. Murray led a run as the quarter progressed which pushed the Nuggets lead to double digits. Strawther came back in and immediately knocked down a three. Atlanta meanwhile had completely stalled on offense while Denver’s lead grew to nearly twenty. Near the end of the quarter Atlanta finally started to find their range, particularly Bogdanovic, and that trimmed the lead a little bit. However, Atlanta got a string of technical fouls that included Young getting tossed out of the game and Denver pushed the lead right back up near twenty. All in all it was a fantastic quarter for the Nuggets. They ended the third leading 103-86.

Peyton Watson got a classic Swatson block early in the fourth while Jackson knocked down shots. Unfortunately the bench group couldn’t keep from fouling and Atlanta was already in the penalty with more than nine minutes left in the quarter. The Nuggets started to look a bit tired. There was less cutting and their shots started catching a lot of front iron. Murray got a couple baskets but DeJounte Murray would answer and the Nuggets kept giving the Hawks second chances. The Murray duel continued heading down the stretch with the Nuggets still up double digits despite faltering a bit. Atlanta got it down to ten with two minutes to go but were quickly running out of time. Bogdanovic refused to let the game go. He knocked down a pair of threes to offset Nuggets free throws and had the Hawks within six with a minute to go. Murray turned it over multiple times, Bogi hit another three and suddenly the Hawks were within four with thirty seconds to go. They just didn’t have enough clock to get it done though, the Nuggets ultimately salted it away at the free throw line and win 129-122

Best matchup: Jamal Murray vs DeJounte Murray

Dec 11, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) drives to the basket against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

It was a duel of Murrays tonight. Both guards had strong performances for their teams and in particular in the fourth quarter where they provided the majority of the offense. Jamal tweaked his ankle (opposite of the one he tweaked earlier this year) in the first quarter but didn’t seem to be bothered by it as he ended up tallying twenty-nine points. DeJounte meanwhile didn’t really catch fire until Young was ejected but once that happened he knew he had to take over. It was his play that started the run that almost brought Atlanta all the way back.

Julian Strawther and Bogdan Bogdanovic had huge runs

Strawther’s first half was something that the rook will likely remember for a long time. He was absolutely dominating on both ends of the court. We all know Julian can shoot, but he showed how disruptive on defense he can be with his four steals in the first half. When he’s defending like that and being automatic from three it’s a major plus for Denver. Speaking of being automatic from three, Bogdan flat out was unstoppable from deep tonight. He ended up with a career high  forty points and knocked down ten threes. He was the only thing to save the Hawks from getting completely blown out even though he couldn’t quite carry them all the way back.

The Thing to Bet misses

KCP unfortunately didn’t have his shot going and ends up with just eight points. He sort of got lost in the shuffle when Strawther went on his big run in the first half and then took a back seat to Jamal on offense in the second half. Hopefully if you put money down on KCP points and threes tonight you used some bonus bets on ESPN Bet. Reminder, you can get up to $250 of bonus bets using our promo code LEHIGH.