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NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 11th (All times Eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (35-43) at Brooklyn Nets (43-35), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two teams battling for their postseason lives take center court at the Barclays Center Friday night when the Brooklyn Nets take on the Atlanta Hawks.
The Nets already clinched a playoff berth, but have increasingly faint hopes at winning the Atlantic Division. A Nets loss on Friday, or a Toronto Raptors victory over the New York Knicks, gives the division crown to the team from the great north.
But Brooklyn should be tough at home where they've won a franchise-record 15 straight.
The Hawks are two games clear of the Knicks for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn's chances at the Atlantic title were seriously derailed Wednesday when the Nets fell in Orlando to the Magic, 115-111.
Johnson scored 31 to lead the Nets, who had a three-game losing streak snapped on the heels of Tuesday's 88-87 win over Miami to sweep the four-game season series from the Heat. Johnson had a 3-point attempt to tie the game blocked in the waning seconds.
"In that first half we let things get away, let them get too many easy buckets and transition 3s," Brooklyn's Deron Williams said. "They scored 35 points in the second quarter. That essentially cost us the game."
Mirza Teletovic (17), Mason Plumlee (16), Marcus Thornton (13) and Williams (11) all scored in double figures for the Nets. Paul Pierce sat out with a hip injury and is expected to play on Friday.
The Hawks have scrapped their way back into the eighth seed with three wins in their last four games. They have a tough slate to close the season with Friday's contest in Brooklyn followed by home tilts against the Heat and red- hot Charlotte Bobcats. Fortunately, Atlanta visits Milwaukee in the regular- season finale Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the Hawks overcame a nine-point deficit with less than six minutes to play to secure a 105-97 home victory over the Boston Celtics.
Kyle Korver connected on a pair of 3- pointers during a late Atlanta surge to seal the victory. Atlanta used a 10-0 run, then a 9-0 run, plus, went 6-for-6 from the foul line to put some distance between themselves and the Knicks for the eighth spot.
"The ball movement and the pace were the difference (down the stretch)," Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We found the right guy at the right time and we were able to execute."
Jeff Teague totaled 19 points and eight assists, while Paul Millsap and Brand each donated a double-double. Millsap supplied 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Brand netted 13 points and grabbed 13 boards in Atlanta's win.
Korver managed 17 for the Hawks, followed by 13 a piece from DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott.
The Nets have taken both of this season's meetings and four of the last five. The Hawks have dropped two of their last three as the visitor in this series.
04/11 10:45:22 ET
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