Injured and taking on a larger role, Bucks guard still delivers in win over Hawks

Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks
Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Looking to snap a grueling two-game losing streak, the Milwaukee Bucks visited the Atlanta Hawks.

The Bucks would not have their full roster on the floor together, as Damian Lillard was sidelined due to personal reasons. That made things tougher for the Bucks, especially as they aim to build chemistry before the NBA Playoffs, but that was no excuse, as the Hawks were quite banged up as well.

Early on, things were close, but after a back-and-forth first quarter, the Bucks never surrendered the lead again. The Hawks came back late to make things close, but Milwaukee avoided another collapse by holding off Atlanta, getting back in the win column with a final score of 122-113.

Injured and taking on a larger role, Bucks guard still delivers in win over Hawks

It was unclear what Patrick Beverley would be able to give the Bucks for the rest of the season after he revealed he'd be playing through an injured wrist. Even before the injury, he'd been in a big slump as of late, adding some concern about his future performance. Well, taking the starting point guard duties with Lillard out, the guard showed that he can certainly still contribute at a high level.

Not only was Beverley playing his typical brand of tough, intense defense, tallying a block and a steal apiece along the way, but his scoring was phenomenal. After scoring 15 points combined during his prior five games, Beverley had an 18-point outburst in this one. He knocked down six of his 10 shots from the floor, including 2-of-5 from three, while also sinking all four of his free throws.

However, Beverley saved some for his teammates as well, dishing out five assists. To cap off his great all-around performance, Beverley hauled in five rebounds.

Beverley embodied the next man up mentality in this matchup with Lillard out of the mix, stepping up mightily when the Milwaukee Bucks needed him. Hopefully this performance can bust him out of this recent slump for good and get him clicking ahead of the postseason, where the team could use this type of scoring, passing, rebounding and, of course, electric defense.

Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered an MVP-type performance with 36 points, 16 boards, eight assists and three steals. He threw down an entire highlight reel of dunks and tough and-ones on the inside, including one on former teammate Wesley Matthews. Antetokounmpo gave his old friend a little stare down after finishing through contact.

Coming off a brutal three-game stretch where he averaged just 10 points per game, Khris Middleton was in a great groove from the opening tip. His jumper was falling, shooting an extremely efficient 9-of-10 from the floor, including 3-of-3 from deep. He also had six rebounds, six assists and a steal to top off this excellent bounce-back performance. This Middleton could take the Bucks to a new level.

The big men, Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez, made their presence felt inside the arc by attacking on a consistent basis, finishing with 13 points apiece. In a strategy that many Bucks fans have been calling for, Lopez attacked the hoop rather than camp out on the perimeter all game long, and it earned him six free throw attempts. Portis made six of his eight shots from 2-point land in an efficient outing.

On the other side of the ball, Bogdan Bogdanovic, who Bucks fans are somewhat familiar with, went off, scoring 38 points. Especially late, Bogdanovic was knocking down his shots consistently, but the Bucks held him off just long enough to get the win.

Ultimately, the Bucks needed this win, shorthanded or not. A three-game losing streak this late in the season would have been tough to stomach. Now, they have to continue building and finish out the regular season strong.

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