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Hawks defeat Nets to stretch winning streak to 17 games



ATLANTA — Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was familiar with Paul Millsap from the years both spent in the NBA’s Western Conference, Budenholzer as an assistant coach at San Antonio and Millsap as a player for the Utah Jazz.

But Budenholzer didn’t realize the depth of Millsap’s abilities until he was named head coach at Atlanta and Millsap joined the team as a free agent. He’s gained a new appreciation from watching Millsap play every night.

“I don’t think the whole league, the East, the West, all of us maybe didn’t appreciate Paul for everything he’s doing the last year and a half,” Budenholzer said. “When you’re around somebody like Paul every day, you see the different things he does on both ends of the court. I didn’t realize Paul could do this much.”

Millsap, a 6-foot-8 forward, made his case for a second straight appearance in the NBA All-Star Game on Wednesday when he scored 28 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help the Hawks to their 17th consecutive victory, a 113-102 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Millsap topped 20 points for the third straight game and finished just two points shy of his season high. He made a career-high 15 of 16 from the free-throw line. Millsap was 5-for-8 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers.

Atlanta (38-8) has won 31 of its last 33 games and improved to 15-0 in January. The winning streak is tied for the 14th longest in NBA history.

The Hawks also got 20 points and 10 rebounds from center Al Horford, who picked up his eighth double-double of the year and second in three games. It was the 182nd double-double of his career, moving him past Dikembe Mutombo for ninth place on the club’s all-time list.

Atlanta also got 17 points from guard Kyle Korver, who made five 3-pointers. Point guards Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder each scored 13 points and forward DeMarre Carroll added 12. Teague had 11 assists and surpassed 2,000 for his career.

Brooklyn (18-27) was led by guard Joe Johnson, who had 26 points against his old teammates. Center Brook Lopez scored 18 points and guard Alan Anderson bounced back from a scoreless appearance in his last game with 15 points. Forward Mason Plumlee and guard Jarrett Jack each scored 14.

“I thought we competed and played well,” said Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins, whose team lost its third straight. “We made shots and gave ourselves a chance. It was a good game.”

Brooklyn seized the momentum early and raced to a 13-5 lead on Plumlee’s running dunk. The Nets maintained control and led 21-13 with 4:30 left in the first quarter on guard Jack’s floating jumper.

That’s when the Hawks took over. Atlanta went on an 11-2 run and took the lead on a 3-point basket by guard Dennis Schroder. The Hawks closed the quarter with a pair of 3-pointers by Korver and led 30-27 after one period.

“Brooklyn competed and gave us some problems,” Budenholzer said. “They put us in some tough spots defensively.”

Brooklyn wouldn’t let Atlanta pull away and the game was tied five different times in the second quarter before the Hawks went on a 9-0 run. A pair of free throws by center Pero Antic gave Atlanta a 52-44 lead with 4:33 left. Atlanta went on to stretch the lead to 64-53 at halftime.

“The second quarter has been good on a number of nights when we’ve been able to make a push before halftime,” Budenholzer said.

Brooklyn tried to get back into the game in the third quarter, once cutting the lead to 73-69. But Korver responded with a 3-pointer and the Nets never got closer than four the rest of the game.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t get the stops we needed down the stretch,” Hollins said. “You look at Millsap and Horford and what they do and that’s why they’ve won 17 in a row. They produce every night.”

NOTES: Atlanta G Dennis Schroder was chosen to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge during the NBA All-Star weekend. The second-year player is averaging 8.1 points and 3.3 assists in 17.7 minutes per game. … Brooklyn had not played in Atlanta since 2013. Last year, the home game for Atlanta in the series was played in London. … Inactive for Atlanta were G Shelvin Mack (left calf strain) and C Adreian Payne. Mack has missed five games but might be ready to play Friday. Inactive for Brooklyn were F Deron Williams (fractured rib cartilage) and F Mirza Teletovic (pulmonary embolus). Teletovic remains in Los Angeles, where he was diagnosed with multiple blood clots in the lungs on Jan. 22. Once he is cleared for travel, he will return to Brooklyn for treatment. … Atlanta plays again on Friday night at home against Portland. Brooklyn returns home on Friday to face Toronto.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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