Things came crashing down for the Atlanta Hawks Friday night in the form of a 107-77 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. We certainly haven't become accustomed to seeing blowouts, particularly at home under Mike Budenholzer. Still the coach was quick to credit Milwaukee for their performance during his post game presser and said that his team will regroup and get ready for the rematch between the two teams on Saturday.
"I think you have to give Milwaukee a lot of credit they played really well tonight," said Mike Budenholzer. "They did a lot of things, shot the ball well with different guys. We have got to do things better defensively to make it harder for them on offense. We obviously didn't have a good night for us offensively. Just overall there were a lot of areas we could improve and get better. We get to see the same team tomorrow night and we'll see if we can correct and play better."
The Bucks played one of their best games of the season shooting 51 percent from the floor and piling up 28 assists on 40 made baskets. Their ball movement was crisp and they got a great performance from their bench. Atlanta had no answer for Jared Dudley who finished with 24 points on a perfect 10-10 shooting. Milwaukee's bench finished with 54 points and helped spearhead the blowout.
They were also stellar defensively and made it hard for the Hawks to find an offensive rhythm. Atlanta shot 41 percent from the floor but were just 4-23 from three point range. Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll combined to go 1-14 from the floor for three points. Carroll was held scoreless in 24 minutes. Only a great performance from Paul Millsap who finished with 22 points and 11 assists prevented this from being a complete whitewash.
"We shot the ball poorly," said Korver. "We turned the ball over a lot. Defensively, weren't on the same page. Physically, I felt like we were there. I thought mentally maybe we were still on Christmas break a little bit after having a couple of days off. We weren't very sharp but we get to play them again tomorrow."
"We'll look at the film," said Budenholzer when asked about adjustments for Saturday's rematch. "We'll discuss and talk about it. I think mostly we need to do what we do better but there may be opportunities to make adjustments or do something differently. I don't think that's what is going to make a difference. We just have to play a lot better."
The biggest adjustment the Hawks can make is taking care of the basketball. The Bucks came into Friday's game among the league leaders in steals. They left Philips Arena with 15 more. In all Atlanta coughed the ball up 23 times which Milwaukee turned into 30 points.
"I think we gave them a lot of transition points," Al Horford said. "It goes back to us, at times, trying to play one-on-one. I'm sure we will address it tomorrow and we'll be better."
A let down was always possible given the string of recent opponents by the Hawks combined with a pair of off days surrounding the Christmas Holiday. The Hawks just looked a step slow from the outset and didn't seem to be clearly engaged on the defensive end. Milwaukee took advantage. After the game, Budenholzer wasn't ready to point the finger at the time off.
"No, I think we had two days off sometime in the last week or two and we responded to it in a good way. Milwaukee played pretty well and we need to play much better."
Adreian Payne makes NBA debut
First-round pick Adreian Payne made his NBA debut when he checked in during the first quarter. Payne finished with two points and three rebounds in 13 minutes and was 1-4 from the field.
"Yeah you know I think Adreian has been working hard," said Budenholzer. "I think just his length and his activity, his ability to do things around the basket and to step away from the basket. I think he got an offensive rebound early. HIs length, his athleticism and his activity is going to be something that can help us."