The Nuggets still sit atop the Western Conference with a 17-8 record heading into the weekend despite all the depth issues they now face but the loss of Millsap for an extended period of time might bring them back to earth.
Denver (17-9) dropped games on back-to-back nights for the first time all season after sweeping the first three situations.
Atlanta (AP) - John Collins scored a career-high 30 points and reserves Vince Carter and DeAndre' Bembry fueled a third-quarter rally that helped the Atlanta Hawks beat the Denver Nuggets 106-98 on Saturday night.
The Nuggets (17-8) have won seven of their last eight games, including four of five on their five-game road swing, which ends in Atlanta.
Denver Nuggets forward Paul Millsap (4) in the third quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Pepsi Center.
Nuggets: Will Barton, Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr. and Isaiah Thomas did not play due to injuries. Trey Lyles added 10 rebounds. But the Nuggets have had success defensively with some of the league's best guards, notably Portland's Damian Lillard, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook and Toronto's Kyle Lowry.
"No excuses", Malone said. "And not being afraid to mix up our coverage throughout the game just to give him different looks because if you give a great player the same look for 48, they're going to get into a rhythm and they're going to pick you apart".
"It's very important when you're going against a team like that runs nearly every offensive set they have through him", Collins said.
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In general, the praise for the Nuggets' defensive effort this season has been warranted.
But the defense, which showed cracks in Wednesday's game in Orlando, didn't put up much of a fight in the first half.
Charlotte built a 64-53 halftime lead behind Parker, who had 13 points, three assists and a steal and provided a jolt of energy in a pivotal second quarter.
The Denver Nuggets, one of the hottest teams in the National Basketball Association, will complete their five-game road trip with a stop on Saturday against the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks.
Nuggets: It's not hard to see how they lost.
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