Nate Robinson added 15 points and JaVale McGee had 14 for Denver (1-3), which rallied from eight points down in the fourth quarter before surviving a late Atlanta rally.
The win left Utah (0-5) as the NBA’s only winless team.
Paul Millsap scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Hawks but missed a short jumper that would have tied the game with 1.9 seconds left. Al Horford, who had 21 points, grabbed the rebound but his shot was off as time expired.
The Hawks took the lead early in the fourth quarter when Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer and Shelvin Mack’s desperation heave at the shot-clock buzzer made it 93-88.
Mack’s layup and a basket by Jeff Teague extended the lead to 98-90 with 6:52 left.
Denver rallied to take the lead on Lawson’s jumper with 1:46 left and his 3-pointer made it 107-102 with 59 seconds remaining.
The Hawks came right back. Teague’s basket made it a three-point game and Millsap hit two free throws with 26 seconds left to make it 107-106.
Robinson and Millsap traded free throws, and Lawson was 1-of-2 from the line to make it 109-107.
Atlanta called time out to set up a play, and the ball went into Millsap. His turnaround jumper over Andre Miller was short, Horford got the rebound but missed a short jumper.
The Nuggets used an 11-2 run at the end of the first quarter to tie the game at 26-all. Evan Fournier hit two 3-pointers to bring Denver close after Atlanta had scored 14 straight to take a 10-point lead.
Denver went up 44-35 midway through the second when JaVale McGee slammed a lob from Randy Foye, but the Hawks went on a 13-4 run to tie it at 48. Lawson’s driving layup with 3.6 seconds left in the first half gave the Nuggets a 54-51 halftime lead.
NOTES: Hawks G Dennis Schroder served his one-game suspension Thursday. Schroder was suspended by the league for striking Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins in the groin during Atlanta’s win over the Kings on Tuesday. ... Nuggets F Wilson Chandler (strained left hamstring) has started basketball activities but there is no timetable for his return. ... Korver has made at least one 3-pointer in 78 straight games. It’s the longest active streak in the NBA and tied for third-longest in league history.