Though the Hawks couldn’t clinch the final Eastern Conference berth because the Knicks won earlier in Toronto, Atlanta remained two games up with three to play. The Hawks need just one more win or New York loss, and can secure their postseason place by beating Miami at home on Saturday.
Atlanta scored the final six points after Brooklyn took an 88-87 lead with 2:22 left.
“It says a lot about our team, says a lot about what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Millsap said. “The focus that it took to lock in, compete and to get this win, it says a lot. Guys want to win, guys want to try to make this push.”
He dominated his matchup against younger brother Marquis during a first-half stretch that turned the game and couldn’t control a grin when he crossed Marquis over so badly in the fourth quarter that it caused him fall, but didn’t want to talk about playing against his brother afterward.
“I’m always aggressive. That’s how I’ve got to play,” he said. “Kyle (Korver) pulled me to the side and said I’ve got to be aggressive for us to be a good team and that’s how I’ve been playing lately.”
Atlanta was just 1 of 19 from 3-point range, but hit 20 of its 21 free throws.
Mason Plumlee scored 17 points and Marcus Thornton had 14 for the Nets, who had their franchise-record, 15-game home winning streak snapped.
“Man, it was great. We need to start another one,” Nets guard Joe Johnson said. “I’m glad this streak is over with. Let’s start another one for another month and a half, two months.”
Brooklyn, likely locked into the No. 5 seed, rested starters Deron Williams (right patella tendinitis) and Shaun Livingston, who missed his second straight with a sprained right big toe.
Paul Pierce had 13 points for the Nets, becoming the 18th player in NBA history with 25,000. But he was just 2 of 6 from the free throw line and 1 of 7 behind the arc.
“It’s better to be in the championship club,” Pierce said. “Obviously, statistical things come and go. There’s going to be players in the future that’s going to pass me up. But you know when you win, that lasts forever.”
He became the fourth active player and second on the Nets in the 25,000 club, joining Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and longtime teammate Kevin Garnett.