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Hawks cruise to victory, No. 5 seed and playoff matchup with Wizards

The Hawks clinched the No. 5 playoff seed.

And it came easily.

The Hawks led the Hornets by as many as 34 points en route to a 103-76 victory Tuesday night in the final regular-season home game at Philips Arena. The Hawks will play the No. 4 Wizards in a first-round playoff series that will begin this weekend in Washington, D.C. All that is left is a meaningless game at the Pacers Wednesday.

The Hawks (43-38) have won four straight games to secure the playoff position that was in jeopardy not long ago.

Dwight Howard led the Hawks with 19 points and 12 rebounds for his 53rd double-double of the season. Paul Millsap added 10 points and seven rebounds. The easy victory allowed the Hawks to limit the minutes of most regulars and play all 13 available players. Thabo Sefolosha returned after missing eight games with a right groin strain giving the Hawks a full complement of players for the first time in several weeks.

The Hornets (36-46) end their disappointing season with five straight losses. Jeremy Lamb led the Hornets with game-high 21 points.

The Hawks led by as many as 21 points in the first half and took a 63-44 advantage into intermission. The Hawks shot 72 percent (13 of 18) in the first quarter and 71 percent (24 of 34) through two quarters. Howard led the Hawks with 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half, including scoring 10 of the team’s first 12 points.

The Hawks pushed their lead to 29 points in the third quarter and took an 84-61 lead into the fourth quarter.

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