“It first starts with believing,” McMillan said. “You’ve got to believe that you can win a game and I think we’ve had some doubt with all the guys being out for the last really two months. … I talked about that tonight. You’ve got to believe that you have a chance to win and then you’ve got to go out there and perform. And I thought tonight our guys did that. They were together. They were connected.”
3. After a messy shooting start (2-for-14 at the onset), the Hawks trailed by 12 at halftime but got it together in the third quarter, entering the fourth down just five. They briefly narrowed it to just two points at the 11:40 mark after a 3-pointer by Lou Williams, but gave up a 9-0 run to fall behind 11, similar to their fourth-quarter deficit to the Knicks quickly ballooning in Saturday’s loss. This time, though, they got a few key stops on defense and showed some patience on offense, not giving the Bucks anything easy resulting from an ill-advised shot.
“We got stops, and on the offensive end we took our time in the fourth quarter,” said De’Andre Hunter (20 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one block). “Usually with five, four minutes left, that’s usually when we start falling apart, and I feel like today we did a lot better job just taking our time running the plays and getting the matchups we wanted.”
4. With starting center Clint Capela (left ankle sprain) still out, second-year player Onyeka Okongwu was tasked with containing two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo (27 points, six rebounds, six assists, five turnovers) still got his points, as All-Stars tend to do, but Okongwu didn’t shy away from the challenge, played physical and made his life just difficult enough, particularly down the stretch. Playing in his 11th game back from shoulder surgery, Okongwu finished with 12 points (6-for-9 field goals), eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and one steal. Okongwu has tended toward foul trouble, and ended up finishing with five, but he staved off picking up his second foul until his 25th minute, which was huge for Atlanta. The Hawks were missing Bogdan Bogdanovic (right knee soreness), too, while the Bucks were without Jrue Holiday (left ankle soreness), Brook Lopez (back surgery) and Langston Galloway (health and safety protocols).
“I’m always going to play physical,” Okongwu said. “I’m always going to do what I do, be aggressive, physical, foul if I need to. I don’t back down to anybody. That’s how it’s always been. How it always will be. That’s the type of player I am.”
5. Continuing to fight back, the Hawks took their first lead of the night, 104-103, with 4:37 to play, after a jump shot by Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari and Trae Young made clutch plays in the fourth quarter that helped the Hawks complete the comeback, including Young following up a 3-pointer with an assist on an Okongwu reverse layup, which built up the lead to 113-108 with 1:32 left. Young finished with a team-high 30 points and 11 assists (15 points, three assists and a steal in the fourth) and Gallinari finished with 16 points off the bench (nine in the fourth).
Stat of the game: 38-26 (the margin the Hawks won the fourth quarter by)
Star of the game: Okongwu (had an efficient outing on offense and played scrappy defense on Antetokounmpo)
Quotable: “It’s really special. ... We’ve got to continue his fight that he started.” (McMillan on the significance of playing on MLK Day)