It’s official: Atlanta’s 98-92 loss to the New York Knicks on Wednesday means the Hawks are the sixth seed in the playoffs and will be playing third-place Indiana in the first round.
The Knicks, meanwhile, closeout the regular-season with a sweep over the Hawks and their 10th straight home victory.
They finish the season #2 in the East with a 54-28 record, their best mark since the 1996-97 campaign, and will host seventh-place Boston in the first round. Game 1 is Saturday at 3:00 PM (ET) on ABC.
NY didn’t play any of their usual starters as Chris Copeland led the B-squad with a career-high 33 points in 40 minutes. He is the the first Knicks rookie to score 30 points in back-to-back games since Bill Cartwright achieved the same feat 33 years ago.
James White chipped in with 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Iman Shumpert messed around and nearly tallied a triple-double as he finished with 18 points, eight dishes and seven boards. Earl Barron, who was signed just hours before Wednesday’s tip-off, posted a monster double-double in his first game action with 11 points and 18 rebounds. Quentin Richardson, who was signed Tuesday, scored five points on 1-of-11 shooting and grabbed 10 boards.
Carmelo Anthony won the NBA scoring title without even playing. He averaged a league-high 28.7 ppg. The last Knickerbocker to lead the league in scoring was newly elected Hall-of-Famer Bernard King in 1984-85.
Atlanta was fighting with Chicago for fifth place, but apparently tanked on purpose as they rested their starting five Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Rookie Mike Scott led the Hawks with his second straight double-double performance, scoring 23 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
Fellow rookie John Jenkins chipped in with 20 points on 8-of-19 shooting and added three boards, three assists and one steal.
Shelvin Mack (14), Ivan Johnson (12) and Dahntay Jones (11) were also in double-figures.
The Hawks will play Game 1 against the Pacers in Indiana on Sunday.