The Hawks played without Trae Young and fell to the Bucks on Wednesday night, 114-105, at State Farm Arena.
The Hawks held Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo to just seven points but allowed the six-time All-Star to pull down 18 rebounds.
Here are five observations:
1. The Hawks managed to take a 103-101 lead on a Bogdan Bogdanovic mid-range jump shot with 3:12 remaining in the game. But the team stopped using what worked to get them there. They stopped attacking the basket and went 0-for-3 from the floor as the Bucks went on a 10-0 run.
The Bucks eventually added onto their lead with a jumper from Jrue Holiday, and a free throw from Jevon Carter sealed the win.
In addition to that, the Hawks struggled to get stops in the final three minutes of the game after holding the Bucks to 22 points in the third quarter.
“I saw a lot of fight in our guys,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “To be down 24 points and to fight your way back, you mentioned we took a lead in this game. I thought our guys, in the second half came out and tried to win this game.
“I thought our bench did a really good job of coming in and giving us a lift in the second half, late third quarter into the the fourth quarter and we didn’t finish. They did a better job of finishing. A two-point lead late in the game and they made some timely threes to kind of stretch that lead to eventually take the game.”
The Hawks have struggled to finish games this season and are 9-10 in clutch games this season.
2. The Hawks trailed by as many as 24 in the second quarter before a 3 at the buzzer from Bogdanovic pulled them within 21 points at halftime. Bogdanovic’s shot seemed just enough to light a spark as the Hawks rolled with him to begin the third quarter as opposed to Aaron Holiday, who started the game.
With Bogdanovic leading the way, the Hawks would go on a 20-6 run that brought them within 97-94 with 7:50 remaining in the game.
The Hawks got a huge lift from Frank Kaminsky and Jalen Johnson, who attacked the basket in the paint and from long range. The two combined for 19 of the Hawks’ points in the second half.
This season the Hawks have lacked an offensive jolt from their second unit. But over the last two games, they’ve received a huge push from their bench, with McMillan crediting Kaminsky and Johnson’s efforts. Both players shot over 60% in the second half as they helped the Hawks to carve into the Bucks’ lead.
“I thought we got aggressive,” McMillan said. “We were playing from behind and we needed to play with more urgency. I thought we came out with that in the third quarter. Certainly when our bench came into the game, they played with that urgency and were able to get stops and score some points in third quarter to give us a big third quarter.”
3. The Bucks burned the Hawks all over the floor but particularly from long range. The Hawks allowed the Bucks to knock down nine 3-pointers in the first quarter, while holding the Hawks to just 19 points.
The night opened much like the Hawks’ first matchup against the Bucks when Brook Lopez scorched the team from long distance. On Wednesday, he hit four 3-pointers to help the Bucks go 18-of-48 from deep.
4. Part of the Hawks’ struggles for generating offense early in the night came down to the absence of star guard Trae Young. The 24-year-old missed the game with a non-COVID illness and the team sorely missed his ability to initiate offense.
Young accounts for 9.2 assists per game and the Hawks had just five assists in the first quarter.
But the Hawks eventually adjusted and found ways to share the ball before they resorted to isolation down the stretch.
5. With Clint Capela’s absence due to injury, the Hawks have continued to struggle with limiting their opponents on the offensive boards. The Bucks outrebounded the Hawks 57-41 and at one point in the game held a 20-plus rebound advantage.
The Hawks gave up 17 second-chance points, the fifth time in nine games that they have given up 15 or more.
Stat to know
3 - Frank Kaminsky of the Hawks made a season-high tying three 3-pointers. It was his 48th career game with three or more. He finished with 13 points.
“You have to give credit to Milwaukee. They came out with urgency. We’ve had success against that team this season. And you knew that they were going to come out with urgency. So it’s not so much our guys didn’t come out with that urgency. Sometimes the opponent is just playing better. And I thought they they did play better in that first half.” -- Hawks coach Nate McMillan on if the team lacked urgency.
The Hawks kick off a back-to-back against the Pacers on Friday.