The Atlanta Hawks evened the score against the Milwaukee Bucks, grabbing a 90-85 victory in Milwaukee after getting blown out at home the previous night. It wasn't a significantly prettier game by any means, but the Hawks' effort was much more intense, highlighted by 17 offensive rebounds and forcing 19 Bucks turnovers.
Though they shot under 40 percent, Atlanta got much more impactful contributions from Jeff Teague (25p/8r/7a) and Al Horford (20p/9r/4a), while Paul Millsap chimed in with 17p/8r. The Hawks were also able to shoot better from outside (9/29 compared to last night's 4/23), albeit still beneath their usual lofty standards. With all these slight improvements added up, Atlanta was able to have just enough against a sloppy but scrappy Bucks squad.
Khris Middleton (21p/5r, 8-15) was the only Bucks player to have a strong shooting night, while the other guys struggled to create open looks for themselves of for teammates. Much of the credit for the change in result can be attributed to the Hawks' defense, which would swarm around penetration and send several pairs of hands after the ball anytime it was exposed. That kind of havoc was tough to handle for the Bucks' most common ballhandlers (Knight, Bayless, Giannis, Mayo, Marshall), who combined for 14 of the team's 19 turnovers.
-- John Henson was one of very few bright spots for the Bucks, notching 5p/5r/5b in just 19 minutes of action. He was active on both hands and, if he could catch the ball, may have had an even greater impact on the game. Joking aside, Henson has looked encouraging since returning from injury. Hopefully that earns him more minutes and gives people a clearer picture of what he's capable of.
-- Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled for the third straight game, finishing with 5p/5r/2b. It looks like teams have figured him out a bit by sagging off of him and collapsing in the paint when he makes his moves. This isn't Giannis's first struggle and it won't be his last, though. He's only 20, and chances are he'll figure out something to counter with soon. Just remember to breathe in the meantime. He'll be okay. We'll be okay.
-- The Hawks had 48 points off of Bucks' turnovers (32) and second-chance points (16), which made up over half of their offense for the night. They were also able to outscore the Bucks 42-30 in the paint. Milwaukee needed to be sharp if they expected to come away with the sweep and they just were not. There were too many chances provided. Good teams make you pay for those mistakes, and the Hawks did just enough of that tonight.
-- The Hawks have won five straight games against the Bucks at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
-- The Bucks bench outscored Atlanta's bench 110-40 over these last two games.
--The Bucks held Kyle Korver to just 3-for-17 shooting (17.6 percent) from the field and 3-for-13 from downtown in the last two games after he had shot 51.6 percent from the field and 53.9 percent from 3-point range over his first 28 games of the season.
The Bucks will head to Charlotte tomorrow to square off against the Hornets before heading to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on New Year's Eve.The tough month of December is almost over. Want some happy thoughts? Go check January's schedule.