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Rapid Recap: Bucks 97, Hawks 92

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty for most of the evening, but the Milwaukee Bucks came through late for a victory against the Atlanta Hawks, 97-92. A herky-jerky first quarter went Atlanta’s way, with them leading 24-21 after an uneven offensive performance by Milwaukee. The Bucks’ mishaps continued into the second quarter, even if they made up some minimal ground and trailed just 43-41 to the woeful Atlanta Hawks. Some confidence finally emerged in Milwaukee’s third quarter, as they posted a 74-61 lead heading into the fourth through some opportunistic transition scores. Atlanta snuck back into the game with a 17-5 run in the fourth, but Milwaukee was able to close it out with some quick buckets off Atlanta turnovers.

Of late, Milwaukee’s been taking care of business against inferior opponents, beating them by a considerable margin and lessening our collective blood pressure. Tonight was not that case, but they did what they’ve done all year and closed the game out late with their stars taking over. Giannis fought off a difficult night for some clutch buckets while Eric Bledsoe provided this fitting final punch.

Giannis struggled for most of the evening, unable to take on the wall of Atlanta defenders at the rim and ended with 15 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks. Those 15 points are the second lowest of his season.

Khris Middleton wound up as the Bucks leading scorer tonight, with a quite quiet 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists formed mainly from the free throw line and midrange. Eric Bledsoe struggled from the field early, but came up big in the second half creating buckets for others in the halfcourt and coordinating a transition terror late in the fourth to finish with 14 points, nine assists and three blocks. Meanwhile, Tyler Zeller had a solid 14 points and eight rebound with Thon tossing in 12 points of his own.

For Atlanta, it was a balanced scoring attack from most of their starters with Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder combining for 35 points. Former Buck Ersan Ilyasova added 15 points for the Hawks.

Stat That Stood Out

15-7 Fast break points: Milwaukee may not have had a huge advantage in fast break points, but several of those came in the most pivotal moments of the game after Atlanta had reduced Milwaukee’s lead to zilch. After two nice buckets by Giannis, Thon Maker and Eric Bledsoe threw down dunks against limited Atlanta defenders and all night long the Hawks had no answer for Milwaukee’s athleticism running down the court.