Korver scores 21, Hawks hold off pesky Nets 99-92 in Game 1
(AP) -- Kyle Korver scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, and the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks held off the pesky Brooklyn Nets 99-92 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoff series Sunday night.
The Hawks led nearly the entire game and pushed the margin as high as 16 points, but the Nets kept coming back.
Finally, Jeff Teague dropped in a floater coming off the left wing, giving Atlanta a 95-89 lead. Joe Johnson missed a 3-pointer from the corner for Brooklyn, and Teague made a pair of free throws with just under a minute remaining to essentially seal it.
Teague and DeMarre Carroll scored 17 points apiece.
Eighth-seeded Brooklyn finished 22 games behind the Hawks and slipped into the playoffs on the final day. But, with Johnson and Brook Lopez each scoring 17 points, they didn't look overmatched by a team that won the season series 4-0 and earned a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1994.
Atlanta didn't have much to play for over the final month of the season, seizing control in the East with a 19-game winning streak that included a perfect January.
Looking well rested, the Hawks started with the quick pace they wanted against the Nets, who would've preferred more of a half-court game. Atlanta pushed out to a double-digit lead before the game was 7 minutes old and looked on the verge of turning it into a blowout before settling for a 55-45 edge at the half.
The Nets did use their size to good advantage, outrebounding the Hawks 24-16 over the first two quarters to keep it from getting out of hand.
In a striking contrast to the opening quarter, Atlanta began sluggishly coming out of the halftime break. Brooklyn began with a 9-2 run that cut it to 57-54, prompting Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer to angrily call a timeout.
Atlanta quickly regained control. Paul Millsap scored on a strong move to the basket, before Carroll and Korver went deep for 3-pointers that pushed the lead back to 65-54.
But each time the Hawks looked ready to cruise, the Nets bounced back. Even though they fell behind in the best-of-seven series, this was an encouraging start for a highly paid team that underachieved most of the season. They lost the four regular-season meetings to Atlanta by an average of more than 17 points.
Also, the Hawks have to be worried about Millsap, their All-Star forward. He looked out of sorts after missing five games late in the season with a sprained right shoulder, managing just 6 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Atlanta before the series shifts to Brooklyn.
Nets: G Alan Anderson returned to action after missing the final seven games of the regular season with an ankle injury. He scored 5 points in 15 1-2 minutes. ... Lopez set a career playoff high with 14 rebounds. ... Thaddeus Young added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Hawks: Won their opening playoff game for the fourth time in the last five years. ... Atlanta improved to 52-4 overall and 30-0 at home when leading going to the fourth quarter. ... C Al Horford sustained a dislocated right pinkie finger going for a rebound early in the fourth quarter. X-rays were negative and he returned to the game with the finger taped.
BOOS FOR JOE
Despite being a perennial All-Star during seven seasons in Atlanta, Johnson was booed every time he touched the ball for the Nets.
Johnson was dealt away by the Hawks in 2012, which ridded the team of a huge contract and served as one of the key moves in the rebuilding of Atlanta's roster. Despite stellar numbers, he was always viewed as a player who never quite lived up his potential with the Hawks.
Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963