Danilo Gallinari’s offensive spark ‘not enough’ as Hawks drop Game 3

Danilo Gallinari drives to the basket against Giannis Antetokounmpo during the 2nd quarter in game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

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Danilo Gallinari drives to the basket against Giannis Antetokounmpo during the 2nd quarter in game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta.

Credit: Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

John Collins picked up his fourth foul in the first minute of the second half Sunday against the Bucks.

The Hawks turned to Danilo Gallinari, who provided an offensive spark off the bench that helped the team take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter.

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The Hawks treaded water as long as they could in the final period before Khris Middleton, who scored 20 of his 38 points in the final 12 minutes, helped the Bucks sink the Hawks 113-102 to take a 2-1 advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Gallinari finished with 18 points in 36 minutes, providing an offensive lift in the absence of Collins, who played only 23 points and finished with 13 points.

“(Gallinari) gave us a big lift,” Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan said. “They’re doing a lot of switching out there and giving us matchups on the post with John and Gallo and those guys have been able to win their matchups down there. We need to be a little bit more patient and go to those matchups a little more.”

When the Hawks first went to Gallinari, it was out of luxury. They led for the entirety of the first half and Gallinari’s 16 first half minutes were by choice.

In the second half, they went to Gallinari out of necessity with Collins in foul trouble, Clint Capela struggling to create offense and Gallinari outsourcing Bogdan Bogdanovic in the first half.

Gallinari scored seven points and had two defensive rebounds in the third quarter.

“It’s what I’m supposed to do,” Gallinari said. “It’s my job. We didn’t win the game, so it was not enough. We all need to be better next game and get a win at home.”

On the other end, the Bucks took advantage of the absence of Collins.

“Gallo is someone who has produced all year when he gets the minutes. In a lot of ways, we need John out there,” Kevin Huerter said. “I think we’re a better team when John is on the court, with or without Gallo.”

By the time Collins was subbed back in with 8:25 in the fourth quarter, Middleton was in an offensive rhythm and the Hawks were unable to get anything going — whether from Bogdanovic, Collins, Gallinari or Young, who suffered an ankle injury in the third quarter.

“We started the game well and played a good first half, but against a team like this that has experience and so many weapons, we need to play physical for 48 minutes,” Gallinari said. “We need to take care of the ball and control the boards. They’re one of the best teams, especially getting the offensive boards, so we need to do a better job with that.”

The Hawks cut down on turnovers from Game 2 (20) to Game 3 (12). Their passes were crisper and they played smarter with the shot clock and transitions.

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo slams over Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams during the second quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo slams over Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams during the second quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Combined ShapeCaption
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo slams over Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams during the second quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday, June 27, 2021, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Gallinari wasn’t alone in playing Antetokounmpo off the bench. Rookie Onyeka Okongwu went one-on-one with the two-time MVP often in the second half and finished with four points, two rebounds and a steal in his 9 minutes of play.

The Bucks outrebounded the Hawks 50-35 Sunday, with 15 of those being offensive.

Limiting Milwaukee’s offensive rebounding success and gaining extra possessions on their end is something that Gallinari said will be crucial for the team to have success in Game 4 and the rest of the series.

But he’s also not too worried about being down in the series.

“We’ve been in this situation before,” Gallinari said. “We’re going to regroup, talk about the game tomorrow, rest, get our energy back and be ready for Game 4. Like I said, we did it before. I’m sure everyone will be ready for Game 4.”