Hawks beat Nets with com­fort­able 131-99 Pac­ers’ Ge­orge to re­turn from bro­ken leg

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY MICHAEL MAROT

Al Hor­ford and DeMarre Car­roll scored 20 points each to help the At­lanta Hawks match a fran­chise record with their 57th win, beat­ing the Brook­lyn Nets 131-99 on Satur­day night.

How­ever, the Hawks l ost for­ward Paul Mill­sap to a right shoul­der in­jury in a col­li­sion with Brook­lyn’s Earl Clark with 1:52 left in the first half. There was no foul called on the play which left Mill­sap sprawled on the floor. He gri­maced as he held his shoul­der while walk­ing off the court.

Mill­sap did not re­turn and fin­ished with eight points and five as­sists. The Hawks pro­vided no im­me­di­ate de­tails on the in­jury.

Jeff Teague added had 17 points as At­lanta never trailed while end­ing the Nets’ sea­son-best six-game win­ning streak.

Bo­jan Bog­danovic led Brook­lyn with 19 points.

The Hawks topped their pre­vi­ous sea­son high of 130 points on John Jenk­ins’ 3-pointer with 54 sec­onds re­main­ing.

Hawks coach Mike Bu­den­holzer has given his starters gen­er­ous rest since the team clinched first place in the Eastern Con­fer­ence play­offs. The Hawks re­turned to a nor­mal ro­ta­tion against the Nets and looked ready for the post­sea­son while rac­ing to a 66-48 half­time lead.

The teams could meet in the play­offs, but Bu­den­holzer said be­fore the game “We can’t hold any­thing back. We’re just go­ing to play.”

Mill­sap’s in­jury was the only bad news of the first half for the Hawks. At­lanta shot 7 for 12 on 3-point­ers in the half and also had stir­ring jams from Hor­ford and Teague.

Reg­gie Jack­son scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quar­ter, in­clud­ing the win­ning layup with 5 sec­onds re­main­ing, and the Detroit Pis­tons ral­lied to beat the Miami Heat 99-98.

An­dre Drum­mond had 11 points and 17 re­bounds for his 44th dou­ble-dou­ble, Ken­tavi­ous Cald­well-Pope scored 19 points

Two- t i me All- Star Paul Ge­orge is com­ing back to the NBA sooner than ex­pected from a bro­ken leg, hav­ing been cleared to play on Sun­day for the In­di­ana Pac­ers against the Miami Heat.

When Ge­orge ran into the bas­ket sup­port dur­ing a U. S. team prac­tice and broke his right leg in two places on Aug. 1, it seemed a fore­gone con­clu­sion he would miss the en­tire 2014- 15 sea­son. But he re­turned to full prac­tices on Feb. and An­thony Tol­liver added 15 for the Pis­tons. Detroit ral­lied from 15 down in the fourth and closed with a 21-6 run over the fi­nal 5:36 to get the win.

Dwyane Wade scored 24 points and Go­ran Dragic had 21 for the Heat. Luol Deng added 13 points and Has­san White­side had 13 points and 12 re­bounds.

Mar­cus Smart hit a buzzer­beat­ing layup in over­time and the Bos­ton Celtics beat the Toronto Rap­tors 117-166 and moved into the play­off berths.

With 2.6 sec­onds left and Bos­ton trail­ing by one, Smart took a pass from a driv­ing Isa­iah Thomas and sneaked be­hind the col­laps­ing Toronto de­fense to score the win­ning bas­ket, si­lenc­ing the sell­out crowd of 19,800.

Thomas scored 25 points, Tyler Zeller had 20 and Evan Turner added 18 points and 10 as­sists for the Celtics, who moved one-half game ahead of Miami in the race for the fi­nal Eastern Con­fer­ence play­off berth af­ter the Heat’s loss at Detroit.

Klay Thomp­son scored 21 points and the Golden State War­riors clinched home-court ad­van­tage through­out the play­offs with their 12th straight victory, beat­ing the Dal­las Mav­er­icks 123-110.

The War­riors (63-13) need one more victory to as­sure fin­ish­ing with the best record in the NBA for 26, and set a mid-March goal to play in games.

He an­nounced his re­turn by tweet­ing a pic­ture of his game shoes on Satur­day, and the team then con­firmed the news.

“He has worked hard to get to this point and still has work to do, but it’s a pos­i­tive step to­ward what we hope will be a full re­cov­ery,” pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions Larry Bird said in In­di­ana’s re­lease. “His min­utes will be limited in games he plays as we eval­u­ate his progress.”

Bird be­lieves if Ge­orge can get the first time since 1975-76. They hold the tiebreaker on At­lanta for the top over­all seed.

Stephen Curry scored 11 points while big men An­dre Iguo­dala and Mau­rice Speights got into the long-range fun mostly re­served for Splash Broth­ers Curry and Thomp­son. Both fin­ished with 18 points.

Dirk Now­itzki had 18 points to some com­pet­i­tive work in be­fore the end of this sea­son, it would help him con­tinue his pro­gres­sion dur­ing the off­sea­son.

Be­fore the in­jury, Ge­orge was one of the league’s bright young stars. His scor­ing av­er­age had im­proved by at least four points in each of his first four NBA sea­sons, and the swing­man was the league’s most im­proved player for the 2012-13 sea­son.

“I’m ex­cited, but at the same time I’m aware I’m still in a re­hab stage and will con­tinue to work to get back to full strength,” he said. lead the Mav­er­icks.

Also Satur­day, the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers had a 107-92 win over the Den­ver Nuggets, the Or­lando Magic beat the Mil­wau­kee Bucks 97- 90, the Char­lotte Hor­nets edged the Philadel­phia 76ers 92-91 and the Wash­ing­ton Wiz­ards topped the Mem­phis Grizzlies 92-83.

AP

Utah Jazz guard Gor­dan Hay­ward, cen­ter, passes the ball as Phoenix Suns’ Eric Bled­soe, Marki­eff Mor­ris #11 and Bran­dan Wright, right, de­fend dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NBA game in Phoenix, Ari­zona on Satur­day, April 4.

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