Falling into a 12-0 hole less than three minutes in brought back unpleasant memories for the Atlanta Hawks.
Trae Young rewrote the ending with another big game.
The second-year point guard scored 15 of his season-high 42 points in the fourth quarter and added 11 assists to lead Atlanta over the Denver Nuggets 125-121 on Tuesday night.
Young finished seven points shy of his career high set March 1 against Chicago last season. He was 13 of 21 from the field and finished 8 for 13 on 3-pointers to flip the script on the Hawks’ last visit to Denver.
The Nuggets scored the first 13 points on their way to a 45-point rout of Atlanta last November, but this time the Hawks pushed back.
“We didn’t want the same thing to happen again,” Young said. “We wanted to get back rolling.”
Jabari Parker had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Alex Len scored 17 for the Hawks, who played most of the second half without guard Kevin Huerter.
Huerter was hurt when he was fouled by Nikola Jokic with 9:57 remaining in the third quarter. Jokic slapped down on his arm as Huerter was starting to go up with the ball and he immediately grabbed his left arm. He was holding the arm against his body as he walked to the locker room.
Huerter was ruled out for the game later in the period.
“He had a hot start and with him going down it was tough,” Young said.
Will Barton led Denver with 21 points, Jokic had 20 and Paul Millsap added 19. The Nuggets had their three-game winning streak snapped.
The main reason was Young, who has bounced back from scoring nine points against Chicago last week to eclipse the 30-point mark in three straight games.
“It was just the Trae Young show for 48 minutes,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.
Young, who had 17 points in the first half, shouldered the load on offense after Huerter left. Young put up 10 points in the third and then carried the Hawks in the fourth, scoring more than half of their 27 points.
“It felt better because we won,” Young said. “I’m glad I was able to knock some shots down and help us win.”
Denver rallied early in the fourth to tie it at 101 but Young hit a pair of 3-pointers and a floater to put Atlanta ahead 114-106. The Nuggets couldn’t get closer than four the rest of the way.
“He’s got an ultra green light,” Denver guard Gary Harris said. “He’s capable of pulling up right after half court. It makes it tough to guard.”
Atlanta trailed by nine after one but outscored Denver 38-20 in the second to take a 63-54 lead at halftime. The Hawks increased their lead to 13 in the third.
Hawks: F Allen Crabbe (knee) was dressed but coach Lloyd Pierce didn’t want to use him. “He’s still in the emergency situation. We needed a body to dress,” Pierce said. … Atlanta shot 68 percent (15 of 22) in the second quarter.
Nuggets: G Malik Beasley was inactive due to illness. He sat out the second half of Sunday’s win at Minnesota. … The 38 points allowed in the second quarter and the 63 points in the first half were the most Denver has given up.
Young helped stave off a third-quarter rally by Denver when he drained a 3-pointer in front of the Nuggets bench. He then turned and stared into the seats before running up the court.
“Some of it was the bench but some of it was to one of the dudes in the crowd,” Young said. “I’m not about to get fined talking about it. Sometimes what the fans say is unacceptable. I can’t say nothing to him, I can’t do anything towards him, I can just get buckets and look at him.
“He stopped talking as much.”
Pierce was happy with most of Young’s performance but thought the guard could have done better.
“I wasn’t impressed with his free throws. He went 8 for 11; he’s got to go 11 for 11,” Pierce said. “He missed two the other night, he missed three tonight. It’s always something. Everybody else can praise him — I’ve got to stay on him.”
Hawks: At the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
Nuggets: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night.