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Hawks ‘let it fly’ in win over Bucks

Kent Bazemore turned in a big offensive performance helping the Atlanta Hawks get back in the win column.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks were looking for some sort of spark after Friday’s emotional loss and their bench unit was able to deliver once again in a 111-98 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Atlanta got off to a slow start on Sunday but found its groove midway through the first quarter. They came back from 11 points down to tie things up at 36-36 at the end of the first. From there, the defensive effort improved and the Hawks were able to ride it out for another win.

“What I keep coming back to is our activity defensively, our competitiveness defensively,” Mike Budenholzer said after the game. That’s wwhere we have to hang our hat. And on the other end tonight, Kent Bazemore had a big game shooting the ball. Mike Dunleavy off the bench had a big game shooting the ball. Paul and Dwight do a lot of things inside to help us.”

Dunleavy has made a quick impression since arriving as part of the Kyle Korver trade with Cleveland. He scored 10 of his 20 points in the first quarter to help erase that early deficit.

“We got off to a slow start the last couple of games, so you want to come into the game and bring energy,” Dunleavy said after the game. “We didn’t get the defensive stuff solved right away, but our offense was great. Eventually that got us over the hump, and we started playing better defensively in the second half. This was a great win for us. It was good to get back on the winning side.”

It has been a tough season so far for Kent Bazemore who has struggled to find consistency with his shot. He finally found a rhythm in the third quarter scoring 13 of his team-high 24 points in the period to help hold off a Milwaukee rally.

“A lot of times he’s so hard on himself. You just have to keep him up,” Budenholzer said when asked about Bazemore’s season. “When he’s great defensively, when he’s active, he’s getting rebounds, blocking shots, doing all those things, and just let the offense come to him, that’s when he’s at his best. We have a ton of faith that he’s going to be good, he’s going to make shots. It’s great to see him do that tonight.

Bazemore made 8 of 13 shots from the field including 4 of 7 attempts from three-point range.

“We were just being aggressive and letting it fly,” Bazemore said. If you can get it off, just let it go. My teammates have believed in me. I’ve stayed the course, kept the faith, showed up to work every day and worked hard. Tonight was just one of those nights.”

“It’s always good to see the ball go in. My teammates kept finding me. Tim, Paul, Malcolm - you have to give them credit as well, setting me up, guys getting me open. You just have to let it fly.”

The Hawks are now 3-0 against the Bucks this season and have clinched the tie-breaker over them. Atlanta is back in action on Monday for a 1 p.m. matinee in New York against the Knicks.