Milwaukee Bucks: Takeaways from 122-117 win over Atlanta Hawks

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 17: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 17: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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MILWAUKEE, WI – MARCH 17: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI – MARCH 17: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks gave a lively St. Patrick’s Day crowd what they wanted, pulling out a close win over the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

After their recent, disheartening loss to the Orlando Magic, the Milwaukee Bucks were presented with a great chance to bounce back against the Atlanta Hawks. Holders of a 20-49 record, Atlanta are exactly the kind of team against which a struggling squad like Milwaukee can work out some kinks.

While they picked up a victory in the end, it was anything but an easy win for the Bucks. Their troubling trend of failing to set the tone early against lesser opponents continued, as Milwaukee was again sluggish in the first period. The defense in particular was poor, and the Hawks were able to run their offense with little resistance.

Nifty pick-and-rolls initiated by Dennis Schroder led to penetration and a lot of scoring at the rim, as Atlanta took a 31-26 lead into the second quarter. To interim head coach Joe Prunty’s relief, his team showed much more fight as the game progressed.

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Led by nine points from Eric Bledsoe in the second, and assisted by some extra-sloppy play by the Hawks (nine turnovers in the period) the Bucks were able to pull ahead and lead 56-50  at the break.

Atlanta was feisty as the second half opened, briefly retaking the lead on a John Collins jumper with just over seven minutes remaining in the third. From that point on Milwaukee seized control, leading 95-87 entering the final period. While a Bucks blowout appeared to be on the table at that point, head coach Mike Budenholzer’s supposedly-tanking Hawks ended up giving Milwaukee all they could handle.

The Hawks’ offense confounded the Bucks in the fourth (30 points on 9-of-12 shooting), and Milwaukee surrendered their lead after Taurean Prince hit a pair of free throws with 4:39 remaining, putting the Hawks in front by a score of 109-108.

From that point on the Bucks got serious, clamping down on defense and attacking the rim on offense. Milwaukee got to the line often and hit enough free throws to put the game away.

We kick off our takeaways by looking a little more closely at how the Bucks managed to hold off Atlanta in the final minutes.