(SportsNetwork.com) - The Atlanta Hawks clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but will try to continue their momentum Saturday night when they visit Time Warner Cable Arena to face the Charlotte Hornets.
By virtue of Atlanta's home victory Friday night over the Miami Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers' loss at the Barclays Center to the Brooklyn Nets, the Hawks will be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
"It's been a good for year us," said forward Paul Millsap. "It's a major accomplishment for us."
This marks only the second time in franchise history the Hawks earned the best record in the conference. The other occasion occurred in the 1993-94 season.
Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer isn't sure how he will rest his players and alter his rotations going forward. The Hawks have 10 games left to get his team both rested and sharp for a deep postseason run.
DeMarre Carroll scored 24 points and Millsap had 21 in the 99-86 victory over the Heat. Al Horford added 15 points and Dennis Schroder had 12 points and 11 assists for the Hawks, who have won two in a row on the heels of a three-game losing streak.
Jeff Teague missed the game with a left ankle sprain.
The Hawks led from the start, beginning the game with a 12-3 run keyed by eight points from Carroll. Miami was only as close as five points after that and Atlanta's lead reached double digits for good with 9:33 remaining in the second quarter.
The lead was as high as 26 in the third quarter and dipped only as low as 12 in the fourth.
The Hornets are fighting for their playoff lives. They are 1 1/2 games behind the eighth-ranked Boston Celtics, but they'll have to jump the Nets and Indiana Pacers to get to Boston.
On Friday, the Hornets lost their third in a row, a 110-107, double-overtime heart-breaker to the Washington Wizards in DC.
Al Jefferson tallied 31 points with 10 rebounds and Mo Williams registered 26 points with 10 assists off the bench for Charlotte, which has dropped six of its last seven.
"It's a tough loss," said Jefferson. "It's going to haunt us into the summer."
Rasual Butler gave Washington a 101-99 lead with a minute left in the first overtime before Williams tied it with a jumper. Bradley Beal, Drew Gooden and John Wall all missed attempts on Washington's ensuing possession, then Kemba Walker's floater at the buzzer was no good as the game extended an extra five minutes.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the second overtime, with Wall giving the Wizards a 108-105 edge on a 3-pointer with 2:22 left. Jefferson knocked down a jumper to help the Hornets pull within one, but they would not score the rest of the way.
Wall converted a jumper with 9.9 ticks on the clock to extend the margin to three. Williams missed a 3-pointer prior to Jefferson grabbing the rebound and getting fouled by Wall with 3.9 seconds left. Out of a timeout, Jefferson missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Washington held on.
The Hornets begin a three-game homestand Saturday with visits from the Celtics and Detroit Pistons on the horizon.
The Southeast Division foes split two meetings this season with the home team prevailing. Atlanta has won five of its last six in Charlotte and the two will duke it out again on April 10.