Hawks Inch Closer to Playoffs By Beating Nets In Brooklyn

Friday, April 11, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets

The Hawks (36-43) went into Brooklyn and got a much-needed 93-88 win over the Nets (43-36). Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 27 points and 10 rebounds on 10-of-19 shooting as the Hawks overcame a terrible three-point shooting night — going just 1-of-19 from three-point range — to get a huge win and get the magic number down to one to reach the playoffs.

Hawks vs. Nets
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The Nets were without Deron Williams at the point, and in his place started Jorge Gutierrez and had Marquis Teague coming off the bench and playing major minutes. Jeff Teague took advantage of the Nets’ inexperienced point guard rotation — particularly dominating his younger brother — for 22 points, three rebounds, and three assists. Teague did much of his damage in the second quarter — a large part of which he was matched up with his brother — where he scored 14 points to lead the Hawks to a 39 point quarter and a seven-point halftime lead.

The Nets led by seven after the first quarter after dominating the glass on the offensive end. Brooklyn had seven of their nine offensive rebounds in the first quarter, scoring five second-chance points. Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko combined for six of those in the first quarter, as the Nets were more active on the boards and used their length to frustrate the Hawks.

Atlanta made adjustments after the first quarter, doing a better job of keeping the Nets from penetrating where they would draw the Hawks’ bigs as help defenders, leaving the glass vulnerable to the Nets’ big on the weakside. By doing a better job at the point of attack on defense, and rotating down on the weakside, the Hawks were able to limit the Nets’ second-chance opportunities for the rest of the game.

The Hawks led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, but the Nets fought back behind big bench performances from Marcus Thornton (14 points), Mason Plumlee (17 points), and Mirza Teletovic (8 points). The Nets came all the way back in the fourth quarter to take an 88-87 lead with just over two minutes to go, but Millsap quickly answered with a tremendous reverse layup to give the Hawks lead lead back for good.

A pivotal moment came on the next Hawks possession, where Teague was whistled for an offensive foul driving in transition, but after review the call was overturned by the officials, putting Teague at the line. Jeff hit both free throws to put the Hawks up by three, and they were able to make stops down the stretch by forcing the Nets into contested shots away from the rim and controlling the boards.

The only Nets starters to finish in double figures were Paul Pierce and Gutierrez. Pierce had 13 points, but it took him 14 shot attempts to get there and he only shot 2-for-6 from the free throw line. The Hawks defense was very solid in the paint, and held the Nets to just 42.5% shooting.

Neither team found their three-point shooting range, but the Nets did have a few timely threes late to help their run to the lead in the fourth. Brooklyn was 6-for-22 from three — just 27.3% — but it was much better than the Hawks dismal 1-for-19 (5.3%) from three.

The Hawks getting this win despite such a terrible shooting night is a testament to their defensive effort and commitment in attacking the paint, led by Teague and Millsap. DeMarre Carroll also had a good night with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and was active driving off the dribble and cutting without the ball for some easy baskets. Mike Scott came off the bench in the first half to give the Hawks an offensive lift, shooting 4-of-7 from the floor for eight points.

The Knicks also got a win facing the Raptors in Toronto, so the win by Atlanta was not enough to clinch a playoff berth, but the Hawks magic number is now just one. One more win for the Hawks, or a loss by the Knicks, will ensure the Hawks’ seventh-consecutive trip to the playoffs — which would be the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks will have a chance to clinch Saturday night in Atlanta, when the top-seeded Miami Heat come to Atlanta — who would currently be the Hawks’ first round opponent.

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Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images

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