With just 13 games remaining in the season, the Atlanta Hawks kicked off a six-game road trip in Milwaukee on Saturday night. While many Hawks’ fans might have an eye on the bottom of the NBA standings and the Hawks’ odds for gaining the top pick in the 2018 summer draft, the team looks to have a constructive final stretch of the season building some positive momentum to carry into a very important off-season.
The Hawks delivered a valiant effort but came up short at the end, losing 122-117. Taurean Prince tied a career high with 38 points while Dennis Schroder added 18 points and nine assists and John Collins delivered a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. The Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo who scored 33 points to go with 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
An already short-handed Hawks’ team played the final minutes with an even more depleted compliment of players. John Collins suffered an ankle sprain with 8:03 remaining and did not return. With 2:46 remaining, Schroder fouled out with the Hawks leading 112-111. The Hawks finished the game with Prince, Isaiah Taylor, Dewayne Dedmon, Mike Muscala and Damion Lee on the floor.
After Schroder’s sixth foul, he received a technical foul while exiting the game. Kris Middleton made the technical free throw to tie the game 112-112. Eric Bledsoe then made both of his free throws to give the Bucks a two-point lead. After a Middleton dunk, Prince pulled the Hawks within two again with 1:55 to play but that was the closest the Hawks could get over the final two minutes.
Prince did have a shot to tie the game on a three-point attempt with 36 seconds remaining but missed. After a Bucks rebound, Taylor fouled Middleton unnecessarily as there was enough time to play for a defensive stop with a chance to get the ball back, down one possession. Middleton made both free throws to effectively put the game away.
Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer was pleased with his young team’s effort and he said as much (via the Fox Sports Southeast telecast). “To go down the stretch, come back from ten points down in the fourth quarter, I think a lot of guys did a lot of things well... I’m proud of the way the guys played, the way they competed on the road against a playoff team, a lot of good things.”
Early in the game, the Bucks worked through All-Star forward Antetokounmpo as he scored 12 first quarter points though making just three of nine shots from the field. The Hawks used a balanced scoring attack to control the game throughout the first quarter getting field goal attempts from ten different players in the opening period. Atlanta was led by Taurean Prince with nine points while Schroder and Muscala scored seven and six respectively.
Prince hits a three-pointer to get the Hawks’ offense going early.
The Hawks led for the entire first quarter. After getting leads of 16-11 and 18-14, the Bucks pulled within two at 18-16 on a Middleton layup. But the Hawks used a 9-0 run to increase the lead to 27-16 with 2:22 left in the opening period which culminated with a Prince put-back. The Bucks finished the first quarter with a 10-5 run to cut the Hawks’ lead to 31-26.
Prince gets the tip-in to give the Hawks an 11-point lead late in the opening quarter.
Both team’s offenses hit the skids early in the second period. Through the first five minutes of the period, the teams combined to shoot 5/17 from the field including 1/6 from the three-point line. With seven minutes remaining before the half, the Hawks lead 36-32.
After Prince hit a three-pointer to increase the Hawks’ lead to 39-32, Atlanta’s offense sputtered against an active Bucks’ defense overplaying the passing lanes. The Bucks used a 9-0 run of their own to take their first lead of the game at 41-39 with 5:10 remaining. Including the 9-0 run, the Bucks used outscored the Hawks 24-11 over the final 6:34 to earn a 56-50 lead heading into half-time.
Jabari Parker scores on a transition dunk late in the second quarter. Parker scored 15 points of the bench for the Bucks.
The Bucks outscored the Hawks 30-19 in the second period. The Hawks made just five field goals while committing nine turnovers that resulted in eight points off turnovers for Milwaukee.
Both teams caught fire in the third quarter with the Bucks outscoring the Hawks 39-37 int he period. The Hawks opened the quarter with a 15-7 run to retake the lead 65-63 on back-to-back three-pointers from Prince and Dedmon.
Tyler Dorsey finds Dedmon for the corner three as the Hawks retake the lead, 65-63.
The Bucks then took control outscoring the Hawks 30-19 over the next seven-plus minutes building a 95-82 lead with 1:25 to go in the third. But five points from Andrew White in the final thirty seconds of the quarter pulled the Hawks within eight with the Hawks trailing 95-87 heading into the final period.
Andrew White scores in the final seconds of the third quarter, pulling the Hawks within eight at 95-87.
The fourth quarter was a thrilling back and forth affair. After opening the quarter down by eight, the Hawks used three free throws from Collins followed by a Prince layup to close the gap to two at 100-98 with 7:52 to play.
Prince and Schroder carried the Hawks on offense scoring 16 of the Hawks’ 18 points during a strech from the 8-minute mark to just inside the 2-minute mark. The final basket in the run, an impressive difficult shot from Prince, was the score that pulled the Hawks within two at 116-114 but set the stage for the Hawks to come up short short in the final two minutes of the game.
Another Career Night for Prince
Though Prince’s second NBA season has been marked with ups and downs, he seems to be determined to finish the season strongly. Prince matched his career high of 38 points which he set just four games prior on March 11 at home versus the Bulls.
Saturday night, his 38 included impressive fourth quarter scores against a team that features a long athletic front court. While much of his scoring this season has been propped up by his three point shooting, his 9 of 13 shooting on two-point shots, including several buckets in traffic around the rim, is a very positive sign for Prince and the Hawks.
Prince makes a tough mid-range jumper over Antetokounmpo scoring two of his 12 fourth quarter points.
Prince makes another tough fourth quarter shot, this time at the rim scoring against Bucks’ center John Henson.
Prince converts another tough shot, scoring again over Henson.
An extremely short-handed Hawks’ team might be even more short-handed going forward. After Collins left the game in the fourth quarter, the team announced his injury as an ankle sprain. No timetable has been set for his return.
Collins injures his ankle getting fouled by Antetokounmpo on a three point attempt. Collins made all three free throws before exiting the game.
The Hawks return to action in the second game of the six-game road trip Tuesday night in Utah when they take on the Jazz.