NEW YORK — Paul Millsap had 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists and the Atlanta Hawks finally finished off the Brooklyn Nets in six games, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 111-87 victory Friday night.
Kyle Korver added 20 points and hit three of his six 3-pointers during a series-deciding run to open the third quarter as the Hawks turned a six-point lead into the only blowout of the series. The East’s No. 1 seed has a quick turnaround before facing Washington on Sunday in its second-round opener.
The Wizards, the No. 5 seed, swept Toronto in the first round.
Atlanta won the final two games and left no doubt about this one after beginning the second half with a 23-3 blitz that made it 74-48, opening as big a gap on the scoreboard as there was between the teams in the standings. The Hawks were 60-22 in the regular season and the Nets were only 38-44 as the last team to qualify for the post-season, but Atlanta has outscored Brooklyn by just nine points through the first five games.
The Nets looked as if they would keep this one close after recovering from the Hawks’ strong start, but Atlanta wouldn’t let that happen.
Brook Lopez scored 19 points for the Nets, who had saved first-round elimination with Game 6 victories in each of the last two years. But a lethargic start to the third quarter ended any hopes of taking the series back to Atlanta on Sunday.
Deron Williams had two turnovers that started Atlanta fast breaks in the opening minutes of the third as the Hawks started with an 8-0 spurt that made it 59-45. Williams then made a 3-pointer, but the Hawks ripped off the next 15 points, opening a 26-point bulge midway through the period.
The Hawks won the East so handily after building a big cushion with their 17-0 January that they were able to give their starters plenty of rest down the stretch, though that contributed to them not clicking when the playoffs started.
A Nets team they beat four times by an average of 17.3 points during the regular season kept the first two games close and won the next two. But Atlanta pulled away late in Game 5 and came out clicking Friday.
Korver made three 3-pointers in the first quarter and DeMarre Carroll added two, including one with 1.4 seconds left that made it 36-23. The Hawks shot 13 of 18 in the period (72 per cent), went 5 of 7 from 3-point range and looked like the team that ran such precision offence for most of the season.
Brooklyn came right back with a 14-4 run and Atlanta’s lead was just 51-45 at halftime.
Hawks: Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer finished third in voting for executive of the year, which was won Friday by Golden State general manager Bob Myers. Budenholzer, who won coach of the year, has overseen basketball operations since general manager Danny Ferry’s racially charged comments. … Carroll finished with 20 points, his fourth straight game with at least that many.
Nets: The Nets fell to 5-1 in Game 6 of first-round series. They beat Chicago in 2013 in a series they eventually lost, then topped Toronto last year before edging the Raptors in Game 7. … Mirza Teletovic, who had sat out the last two games after returning in Game 2 after recovering from blood clots that had sidelined him since January, played 9 scoreless minutes.
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Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press
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