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Disastrous start dooms Hawks in 144-112 loss to Bucks

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A hideous start set the tone.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks entered Milwaukee on Friday night looking to pick up a win in their first matchup with former head coach Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks. Unfortunately, things got off on the wrong foot for the visiting team and it was all downhill from there.

The Bucks began Friday’s game scorching hot from the field with Malcolm Brogdon (and, of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo) leading the way. The former NBA Rookie of the Year posted six quick points and an assist to kick Milwaukee’s offense into overdrive, with the MVP front-runner doing quite a bit of damage in his own right.

Atlanta seemed to forget what time the game was supposed to start as they came out of the gates looking dreadful on both ends of the floor. Kevin Huerter scored four of the Hawks 14 first quarter points and when all was said and done the visitors found themselves down 29 after the opening frame.

That quarter for the Bucks was the highest scoring opening period of the season and the 29 point lead was the largest first quarter advantage in team history. In short, those are not great records for the Hawks to be involved in and it was a nightmarish start.

In the second quarter, the Hawks finally began to spring to life, but the lead was virtually insurmountable by that point. Dewayne Dedmon caught fire midway through the quarter which was a nice boost for Atlanta to keep things from getting disrespectful. Tyler Dorsey saw some minutes late in the quarter and hit a three pointer to get the Hawks over the 40 point mark before the half.

Milwaukee faltered only slightly in their scoring onslaught in large part due to taking their starters out of the game for long stretches. George Hill was great for the Bucks in the second quarter along with Brogdon continuing his solid work against Atlanta’s backcourt.

Towards the end of the first half, a bank of lights went out in the (brand new) Fiserv Forum which pretty much encapsulated the night that Atlanta was having. The Bucks carried a very comfortable 33 point lead into the break with the Hawks wondering what hit them.

The situation did not really improve after halftime although it didn’t exactly worsen either. The Hawks actually began to start hitting from beyond the arc thanks to DeAndre’ Bembry and Dedmon, who each hit a pair of threes early in the third. Vince Carter continued the good shooting with two of his own after entering around the midway point of the period.

Milwaukee turned to Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton to carry the offensive load in the third which they did well in compliment to one another. Middleton began torching Atlanta from distance (three made three pointers and two long two pointers) and Giannis was unstoppable from inside the paint.

Coming into the final period, Atlanta’s simple goal was to just not let things get any more out of hand down 118-79 after a 14-2 run near the end of the third quarter.

The lead ballooned to 46 after a 12-5 run to open the fourth as the Hawks went deep into their bench playing Justin Anderson, Daniel Hamilton and Dorsey big minutes. Atlanta actually ended up re-inserting their starters, both out of necessity and in an apparent attempt to keep the deficit under 50 points.

The Bucks surpassed the 130 point mark around the eight minute mark of the fourth and continued to climb. John Collins entered the game to help do some window dressing for the Hawks and, on the bright side, he was able to help in getting the lead whittled back down to 39 around the five minute mark before exiting the game for good.

Thon Maker put Milwaukee over the 140 point mark with just over three minutes remaining. Trae Young secured another double double late in the fourth quarter as things mercifully coasted to a close with the Hawks taking a 32 point drubbing.

In search of a positive note, Bembry posted his career-high with 19 points in only 23 minutes of action. The third-year wing made 7 of 12 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 from three, and he was flanked by 12 points and six assists from Jeremy Lin.

Atlanta will not catch a break in their schedule anytime soon as they’ll return to action on Sunday afternoon against the Miami Heat looking to improve on tonight’s effort. Stay tuned.