Hawks gain speed with strong late-season run

AUBURN HILLS (Michigan) • Quietly and efficiently, the Atlanta Hawks keep piling up victories. The team who headed into the Eastern Conference play-offs last season as the top seeds could be this season's dark horses.

Paul Millsap had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists and the Hawks snapped the Detroit Pistons' five-game National Basketball Association league winning streak with a 112-95 victory at The Palace on Saturday.

Atlanta, who had eight players in double figures, won for the 13th time in their last 16 games.

"I think we're playing our best basketball right now," said Hawks shooting guard Kyle Korver, who chipped in with 12 points.

"These last 15 or so games has probably been our best stretch of the season. We feel good about where we're at."

Millsap, who was also a force at the defensive end with four steals and four blocks, left the game with 5min 21sec remaining after banging into Detroit centre Aron Baynes. He suffered a cut above his left eye that required 10 stitches.

Kent Bazemore contributed 17 points and Al Horford added 13 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hawks (44-30), who extended their Southeast Division lead to one game over Miami.

Jeff Teague collected his fourth double-double with 12 points and 12 assists, as the Hawks never trailed.

"More than defence, it was the energy," Horford said. "We understood this was a really big game... It's fun to play teams at this stage that are fighting for something."

The Hawks, who won the season series 3-1, also handed the Pistons (39-35) their previous loss at the start of Detroit's nine-game home stand, 118-114, on March 16.

Atlanta, who won 60 games last season, currently hold the No. 3 seed thanks to their late surge.

"We're definitely under the radar and that's fine," Korver said. "We still have eight games left but we feel good about how we're going into the play-offs."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2016, with the headline 'Hawks gain speed with strong late-season run'. Print Edition | Subscribe