Nothing is easy when facing the 2014-15 Milwaukee Bucks, but the Atlanta Hawks will leave Milwaukee for the sixth-consecutive time as victors after being the Bucks 97-86 Sunday afternoon that featured a third quarter that set basketball back at least 35 years.
How it Happened:
The Bucks were without newly-acquired point guard Michael Carter-Williams so Bucks’ head coach Jason Kidd was forced to role with shooting-guard-in-a-point-guard body Jerryd Bayless as his starting point guard with rookie Tyler Ennis backing him up against the dynamic duo of Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder; the latter won that match-up.
The Hawks offense struggled, too, but not nearly as much as Milwaukee did in half-court situations. The Hawks still shot poorly, the team was 9-of-30 from deep, but their energy on defense and on the glass, 16 offensive rebounds, overwhelmed Milwaukee in the end.
Still, it took Kyle Korver getting hot in the fourth quarter, drilled three 3s in the quarter, and Paul Millsap refusing to be denied inside down the stretch. Seriously, Millsap was pounded down low but still led the team with 23 points and 16 rebounds to make up for the poor shooting night from the Hawks’ wings and a very silent night from Teague (Jeff only got to the line once today).
What it Means:
The Hawks move to 44-12 on the year with the win, but more importantly, are now 11 games up on the falling Washington Wizards in the Southeast Division standings. The club also avoided starting their post-All-Star regular season campaign with two-straight losses that would have brought the “Are we sure the Hawks are contenders” critics back out again.
Still, the Hawks are not shooting the ball particular well after the All-Star Break, and that’s a bit concerning. What’s more concerning, though, is the Hawks’ bench. The team elected to stand pat at the NBA Trade Deadline this year, which was fine, but with Thabo Sefolosha still out and Pero Antic losing more confidence with every botched 3-point attempt that decision may not have been the best one. Adding Ray Allen would have been nice, sure, but the team really needs an upgrade inside. Maybe it’s Mike Muscala Time in Atlanta?
Player of the Game:
Paul Millsap did it all for the Hawks today; he rebounded, played fantastic defense inside and out, took a beating inside, and came through down the stretch to put the Bucks away late in the fourth quarter. 23 points on 21 shots is usually not a good thing, but in this specific situation, it was necessary and ultimately kept the Hawks afloat.
Stat of the Game:
Hawks outscored the Bucks 44 to 16 on fast-break points. Both teams struggled hitting shots in the half-court setting, but Schroder kept pushing the pace to give the Hawks better looks before the Bucks could get set and it payed off.
Hawks come home to play the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night at 7:30. Rondo vs. German Rondo should be a lot of fun.
- Pero Antic airballed an open 3-pointer, 0-for-4 overall, as the sad Antic decline rolled along. Hawks didn’t have to make a move at the NBA Trade Deadline, but having somebody like Ed Davis get Pero’s minutes would be nice right about now.
- The Greek Freak is a must-see in-game dunker.
- Today’s game might have been the most frustrated I’ve seen Schroder play this year. He took a beating every time he went inside, but he kept getting back up. Really love that about him as a player.
- Zaza posted a single-game plus/minus of -15, while the newly acquired Miles Plumlee was a +1 in the same amount of time. Plumlee looks like a good fit in Milwaukee and should get most, or all, of Zaza’s minutes sooner rather than later.
- I expect every Bazemore corner three to go in at this point. That’s pretty cool, I think.
- Al really doesn’t like playing against physical bigs like John Henson and Zaza. Millsap seems to love the challenge, even though he seems to play better against softer, slower bigs.
- Mike Scott is flirting with Pero Antic Disease — losing all your confidence in your shot — and that can’t become a thing long-term. His reaction after missing a completely wide-open 3 was pretty telling he’s really frustrated right now.
- Could O.J. Mayo be destined for a Rip Hamilton-type career trajectory? It’s weird, I know, but while watching this game all I could was keep thinking about how his role and career reminded me of Rip’s in an odd way.