Atkins’ late 3s lead Nuggets past Bucks 114-102
He knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter and the Denver Nuggets held on to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-102 on Tuesday night.
Atkins had been bothered by a pulled groin and played in just his second preseason game since signing with the Nuggets in July. He came off the bench Tuesday night and scored 15 points.
“I was excited to be out there finally, to be able to play and have a little fun like everyone else,” Atkins said.
The Nuggets led since early in the first quarter, but were up by only one point before Atkins’ 3-pointers built an insurmountable lead.
“If I get 100 percent and I’m able to run and move around, with these guys here, it’s going to be some trouble for the opponent,” Atkins said.
The Nuggets jumped on the Bucks in the first quarter, outshooting them 52 percent to just 26 percent in building a 15-point lead. But despite not trailing after the 9:03 mark in the first, the win was in question until late.
Charlie Villanueva sparked a rally with 15 points in the second quarter and kept the Bucks in the game. They rallied again in the fourth after being down by as many as 14 in the second half.
The frustration of being unable to take the lead had clearly set in by the third quarter.
Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak was called for the first of four technicals Milwaukee would receive when he disputed a foul called against Mo Williams. Desmond Mason was called for a technical shortly thereafter, and finally Williams was called for two and was subsequently ejected.
“A lot of guys just got excited, couldn’t control their emotions,” Villanueva said. “But we need Mo, we can’t play without Mo. We need him on the floor.”
The Nuggets increased the lead to 13 points when Iverson went 5-of-6 from the free throw line following the technicals. But the ejection seemed to spark the Bucks, as they went on a 21-8 run from the time of Williams’ ejection until Atkins’ 3-pointers.
“That’s going to be our attitude toward games,” Bucks guard Michael Redd said. “Hopefully we don’t get down a lot, but when we do, we’re not going to quit. We’re not going to fold up.”
Nuggets forward Nene played in his first game of the preseason after missing the team’s first five because of a calf strain. He picked up three early fouls and played only 13 minutes, notching six points and four rebounds.
The Nuggets had a scare in third quarter when Kenyon Martin went down clutching his right shoulder. Martin had blocked a shot and was attempting to get the rebound when Yi Jianlian’s right elbow came down hard Martin’s shoulder. Martin went to the bench but re-entered the game minutes later. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Martin played in only two games for the Nuggets last year because of right knee surgery.
“I thought Kenyon, Chucky and Nene were all big pluses tonight,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Chucky had the big 3s in the fourth quarter that separated the game for us. Nene’s presence, I think there was a little rust there. Kenyon, I know he got banged around a little bit, but hopefully he can sustain it.”
Villanueva had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Redd added 19 points and seven assists to lead the Bucks.
Iverson scored 21 points and Carmelo Anthony added 18 to pace the Nuggets.
Bucks center Andrew Bogut left the game midway through the third because of a left wrist sprain. He’s listed as day-to-day.