Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap (No 4) controls the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the third quarter of game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. PICTURE: USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Teague didn’t need to score a single point to guide the Atlanta Hawks into the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
Paul Millsap scored 25 points with nine rebounds and the visiting Hawks used a dominant 41-21 third-quarter to rout the Brooklyn Nets 111-87 on Friday and wrap up their first-round series in six games.
Teague missed all five of his field goal attempts but the speedy All-Star point guard dished out 13 assists and ran the club efficiently.
“Jeff Teague without scoring points controlled the game,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think Jeff had a good feel for how the game was going and what the defence was giving him. He had a big night and he will have more going forward.”
The top-seeded Hawks will host the Washington Wizards in game 1 today. The fifth-seeds swept the Toronto Raptors.
“They’re just an experienced team that knows how to play,” said Hawks centre Al Horford after an 18-point outing. “They were impressive with the sweep over Toronto. We understand we have a challenge ahead of us.”
DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver had 20 points apiece for the Hawks, who shot 51 per cent from the field, 13-of-32 from behind the arc and piled up 34 assists in the blowout.
“The biggest thing with us, we played team basketball,” Carroll said.
“I’m happy we won the series and the way we played tonight.”
Leading 51-45 at halftime, Atlanta started the second half on a 23-3 burst and the blowout quickly began to take shape.
“Once they went on that run the rope started slipping out of our hands and that was the ballgame,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “You could see they had the wave of momentum and they weren’t going to let-up.”
Teague triggered the surge with a pair of steals from Deron Williams and Korver connected on three of his six triples, making it 74-48 midway through the third period.
“We were able to create 2-3 turnovers and Jeff was a big part of that,” Budenholzer
said. “That got us some easy transition buckets, it got us into a rhythm defensively and offensively.”
Added Horford: “Jeff Teague was the difference for us, creating, getting steals and pushing the pace. Once he started doing that, it opened everything else for us.”
The Hawk carried a 92-66 cushion into the final frame and coasted home while sending the Nets on an early vacation.
“They were everything and more than we expected,” Budenholzer said of the series. “They challenged us but our guys were able to meet it.”
Brook Lopez scored 19 points and Williams added 13 for eighth seeded Brooklyn, which was hoping to force a deciding game 7.
“It would have been nice to get another win and force a game 7 but it wasn’t to be,” Hollins said.
“They were the better team and they showed it. They burned us every way you can think of.