Millsap’s 28 points lead Hawks past Nets for 17th straight victory
Paul Millsap played like one of the league’s best players.
Now, he’ll wait to see if he’s picked for his second straight All-Star game.
Millsap had 28 points and 15 rebounds, five other Atlanta players scored in double figures, and the Hawks stretched their franchise-record winning streak to 17 games with a 113-102 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
"Paul was aggressive," said teammate Al Horford, who also had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. "When he plays like that, we’re tough to beat."
Atlanta (38-8) has won 31 of 33 and leads the Eastern Conference by a commanding seven games. This was a bit tougher than expected against the struggling Nets, who kept it close most of the way.
The Hawks pulled away in the final quarter, leading by as many as 15. Millsap finished off Brooklyn’s last run with a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:34 remaining, pushing Atlanta to a 109-98 edge.
Millsap, who was more of a role player in Utah, had taken a lead since signing with the Hawks. He earned his first All-Star appearance a year ago and is expected to be among at least three Atlanta players getting in when the East reserves are announced Thursday night. Horford and Jeff Teague are favored to get in, and Kyle Korver could make it as well.
"We’ve definitely got a lot of guys who are deserving," Millsap said. "It’s going to be tough if one of those guys doesn’t make it."
Joe Johnson led the Nets with 26 points. It wasn’t enough to prevent Brooklyn’s 11th loss in 13 games.
"That’s why they’ve won 17 in a row: they’ve produced every night consistently and their defense had been consistent every night," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. "We had some stuff that gave them trouble, but they kept scoring and we couldn’t stop them."
Korver had 17 points for the Hawks, connecting on five 3-pointers and having another taken away with a video review showed he shot after a foul was committed on a teammate. Teague and Dennis Schroder had 13 apiece, while DeMarre Carroll added 12. Atlanta outrebounded the Nets 45-35.
Brook Lopez scored 18 for Brooklyn off the bench, and Jarrett Jack chipped in with 14 points and 13 assists.
The Hawks got off to a sloppy start, committing six turnovers in the first 7 minutes. But they seized control before the break, closing the second quarter on a 21-9 run that sent them to the locker room with their biggest lead of the half, 64-53.
Atlanta has built a double-digit lead in every game during its winning streak, and improved to 33-1 this season when up by at least 10 points.
Amazingly, the Hawks have already matched their win total for all of last season, when they slipped into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed with a 38-44 record.
And it’s not even the All-Star break.
"We’re trying to grow and improve," said coach Mike Budenholzer, who will lead the East in New York. "We want to keep our mindset there, just play each night, go out there and compete. That’s been good for us so far."
Brooklyn: The bus carrying Hollins got caught in traffic trying to get to Philips Arena and didn’t arrive until 6:43 p.m. for the 8 p.m. tipoff. A poultry convention at the adjacent Georgia World Congress Center clogged traffic. … F Mirza Teletovic traveled home after being hospitalized last week in Los Angeles with blood clots in his lungs. The Bosnian will miss the rest of the season, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Atlanta: Schroder will represent the Hawks in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend. The second-year point guard from Germany is one of the most improved players in the league, playing a key role off the bench as Teague’s backup. … Atlanta finished with 13 turnovers, only seven coming in the final 41 minutes. … The Hawks, who lead the league in points allowed, have surrendered 100 in their last two games after eight straight below the century mark.
Teague made one 3-pointer to tie Jamal Crawford for eighth place on the team’s career list with 282. Horford’s double-double was the 182nd of his career, moving him past Dikembe Mutombo into sole possession of ninth in franchise history. Carroll went past 2,000 points in his career, while Teague’s 11 assists pushed him to 2,005 overall.
Brooklyn: Head home Friday night to face the Toronto Raptors.
Atlanta: Host the Portland Trailblazers on Friday night, the next-to-last game in a seven-game homestand.