ATLANTA: The Atlanta Hawks defeated Brooklyn 96-91 to take a 2-0 lead in their playoff series on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), just hours after announcing the club’s sale to a group headed by US business tycoon Tony Ressler.
Paul Millsap paced the Hawks attack by scoring 19 points as the Eastern Conference regular-season champions held onto home court advantage in their best-of-seven first-round series.
The Hawks got a big boost from their perimeter shooters on Wednesday. They drained 12-of-31 attempts from beyond the arc, while fighting off a late rally from the Nets to become the sixth NBA team during this postseason to claim a 2-0 lead in the first round of the postseason.
Millsap was a perfect four-for-four from the three-point line and seven-of-11 overall from the floor, Kyle Korver buried a trio of three pointers en route to 17 points and Jeff Teague hit a pair of triples while collecting 16 points and six assists.
“The three-point shot was working,” Millsap said. “I was wide-open on a lot of shots. The drive-and-kick helped us out a lot. I was able to get free a few times. It really started with the guards penetrating, getting me easy buckets.”
Prior to the game, the Hawks announced the sale of the franchise to a group headed by billionaire Ressler for a reported $850 million.
The new ownership group also includes seven-time NBA all-star Grant Hill. Nothing is official yet as the deal requires the approval of the NBA board of governors.
In other playoff action Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies breezed past the Portland Trail Blazers 97-82 to take a 2-0 in their Western Conference series.
Al Horford led the inside attack for the Hawks despite playing with a dislocated finger. He tallied 14 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in addition to handing out seven assists.
“Honestly, once the game started, right from the beginning it went out the window,” said Horford of the injury. “I just went out there and played.”
Jarrett Jack tallied 23 points on nine-of-13 shooting for the eighth-seeded Nets, with Brook Lopez finishing with 20 points and Joe Johnson scoring 19 in the loss.
Brooklyn will seek to bounce back when the series shifts to Barclays Center for Saturday’s game three.
Mike Conley had 18 points and six assists as the Grizzlies cruised to a win over Portland.
Conley, who missed the last four games of the regular season due to the injury, went six-of-11 from the floor.
Marc Gasol posted 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Zach Randolph tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds and Courtney Lee scored 18 points for Memphis.
It is the first 2-0 playoff series lead in franchise history for the Grizzlies who began their NBA life in Vancouver, British Columbia.