NBA: Hawks picking up playoff momentum
Dwight Howard had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the resurgent Atlanta Hawks won their fourth straight game, routing the listless Charlotte Hornets 103-76 on Tuesday night at Atlanta to wrap up the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks will face the Washington Wizards in the opening round of the playoffs.
“We think we can beat anybody that’s coming our way,” guard Dennis Schroder said. “We’ve still got to get better, but we’re heading in the right direction, for sure.”
A week ago, Atlanta’s playoff hopes were in jeopardy after a dismal stretch that included two losses to Brooklyn, the worst team in the NBA.
Then, in a sudden turnaround that epitomized the team’s maddening inconsistency this season, the Hawks knocked off East-leading Boston and recorded two consecutive stunning victories over the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, including Sunday’s comeback from a 26-point deficit.
This one was never in doubt. Charlotte played its regular-season finale already eliminated from the playoffs and without its best player, Kemba Walker.
Oklahoma City 100, at Minnesota 98: Victor Oladipo scored 20 points and made a jumper with 6.3 seconds to play to lift the Russell Westbrook-less Thunder over the Timberwolves. With Westbrook resting for the first time this season, Oladipo also had nine rebounds and six assists, and the Thunder outrebounded Minnesota 54-35.
Denver 109, at Dallas 91: Gary Harris scored 20 points for the Nuggets on a night the Mavericks honored retiring Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as a ceremonial player. There was nothing at stake in a lost season that will be the worst for Dallas (32-49) since going 20-62 in 1997-98, and the soon-to-be-37-year-old had the crowd on its feet in the final minute hoping he could play, but Romo wasn’t on the roster or under contract.
at Sacramento 129, Phoenix 104: Buddy Hield had 30 points, leading eight Kings in double figures as the Suns rested their top players in their season finale.
at Lakers 108, New Orleans 96