The Hawks’ five-game winning streak came to an end on Friday night when Jason Kidd’s Bucks team came into Philips Arena and laid down a whoopin’, beating down Atlanta by a final score of 107-77.
The first quarter was a hotly contested quarter that saw Adreian Payne make his NBA debut. After a nice driving layup by Dennis Schröder, Jerryd Bayless responded with a 3-pointer to give Milwaukee a 24-22 lead after 12 minutes. The Bucks then came out with supreme defensive pressure in the second quarter, forcing a myriad of turnovers from the Hawks’ offense. Kidd and Milwaukee schemed well, as they used their length and athleticism to quickly double and make the Hawks panic with the ball. This led to forced passes by the Hawks, which often ended up going the other way for Milwaukee buckets.
“Turnovers and when we did get a shot, we didn’t shoot it well,” said Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer of the factors behind the loss. “I think that’s a credit to their defense, particularly the turnovers, but I think the poor shooting percentage too, I thought their defense and their activity was good.”
The second quarter came to an end with a foolish 3-point attempt from Jeff Teague, where he shot a transition pull up with over six seconds left and with the Hawks possessing superior numbers, including an open Kyle Korver. The shot clanked badly and the Hawks trailed 58-42 at the halftime buzzer.
The Bucks, led by Brandon Knight and Zaza Pachulia, continued their pressure in the third quarter. Milwaukee scored an efficient 23 points on 17 shots in the quarter while keeping the Hawks to just 16 points on 6-for-19 shooting with seven turnovers. The Hawks had some chances with some open shots, but none would fall. Kyle Korver, who is often the catalyst for ATL runs, was 0-for-4 in the quarter on four good looks.
“We couldn’t find any rhythm against them,” Korver said. “They got hot, they had a couple of guys shoot the ball really well and they got in a really good rhythm… Physically I felt like we were there; mentally, maybe we were still on Christmas break.”
Korver and his partner on the wing, DeMarre Carroll, shot a combined 1-for-14 from the field. One of their opposites on the wing — Jared Dudley — did quite the opposite, having a historic night with a 10-for-10, 24 point performance. Dudley is the first player in NBA history shoot 100% on at least 10 field goal attempts that contained at least three attempts from behind the arc.
The point guard play from Atlanta was generally awful, as both Teague and Schröder had problems with Milwaukee’s defense. Teague was angry when he was finally removed from the game in the second half and his post-game presser that lasted 33 seconds, followed by a prompt exit, reflected the attitude of a very angry player.
A couple of positives for the Hawks: Paul Millsap had a nice night with 22 points and 11 rebounds. With the injuries to Milwaukee’s frontcourt, it seemed like he and Horford had the potential to dominate all night. The only problem was that Atlanta’s guards couldn’t get them them ball. Also, the Hawks will have a chance to exact their revenge tomorrow night in Milwaukee.
“Good thing about it, not that we have another game, but we get to see them tomorrow,” said Kent Bazemore. “We can try to get it back. Tomorrow’s gonna be great.”
The Hawks still hold the 2-seed in the East, up a half-game on the Washington Wizards.