The Hawks finally looked like the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed, obliterating a Nets team that had done so well to even the series at two games apiece upon their return to Brooklyn. But much like Chicago in Milwaukee on Thursday night, Atlanta wasn’t messing around on the road this time — it just took them a quarter later than it took Chicago before they got rolling.
The 23-3 run that started the second half was enough to finally break Brooklyn, but the Hawks only held a six-point lead at halftime after Brooklyn stormed back from a 13-point deficit in the first quarter.
That lead could have been as close as three at half if Joe Johnson’a shot at the buzzer reaches the nylon. But it rattled out and a 41-21 third quarter ended any chance of Brooklyn forcing a Game 7.
Paul Millsap led Atlanta with 26, and Kyle Korver scored 20 after going 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. Demarre Carroll added 20 more on a brilliant 7-for-8 from the field (3/4 3pt).
How many teams have a center who can run the break like this and find their small forward on the wing. Then have that supposed shooting specialist — a pigeonhole Korver’s game is too big to fit into — pump fake the defender past him before cooly knocking it down?
When the Hawks are rolling, we agree with DeMarre Carroll’s post-game assessment: “We believe that when we are playing the right way, as you seen tonight, we can beat anybody.”
Starting Hawks point guard Jeff Teague scored 0 points in over 23 minutes of action, but he had a big impact on the win — all the Hawks who got run did. After dishing for 13 assists, Teague’s only the second player in NBA Playoff history to record so many dimes without scoring a point. Seattle Supersonic Nate McMillan holds the NBA Playoff record at 16 in a May, 1987 win over the Rockets.
Look at how Teague’s driving ability sucks Jarrett Jack into the paint here, opening up Kyle Korver — perhaps the second deadliest three-pointer shooter in the league — for a wide-open look at the top of the key:
That’s just horrible team defense by Brooklyn, but it’s also a testament to Teague’s ability to finish at the rack. Why else would Jack come over when Brook dropped below the Antic screen?
The Hawks only get Saturday night off affect clinching, and then they have to wake up early for their 1:00PM ET tip on ABC against the Wizards this Sunday in Atlanta.