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Hawks challenge Bucks, eventually yield for 111-102 loss

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Atlanta Hawks v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

After seven straight losses, the Atlanta Hawks faced one of their most difficult challenges of the season on Wednesday evening against the Milwaukee Bucks. Though the team was competitive throughout, the losing skid was extended to eight games with a 111-102 defeat.

The (very) early portion of the game was kind to the Hawks, with Jabari Parker scoring 10 points sandwiched around a pretty lob from Cam Reddish to Damian Jones.

That was the extent of the positive performance in the first quarter, with the Bucks completely taking control down the stretch of the period. Atlanta didn’t score for the final 6:13 of the first quarter and, while the Hawks scuffled, Milwaukee scored 18 straight points to take a 33-17 lead.

Things did begin to flip in Atlanta’s favor in the second quarter, with the Hawks scoring 14 points in the first three minutes of action.

The Hawks initially struggled to get defensive stops but things settled in for Atlanta, with a 13-4 overall run to slash the margin to seven.

Perhaps the biggest swing was still to come, though, and it came at an interesting time. With Milwaukee leading by 12, Giannis Antetokounmpo was whistled for a Flagrant-1 foul (after a lengthy official review) against Parker. The veteran forward knocked down all three free throws and, after an inbounds pass, Evan Turner made it a five-point possession.

From there, the Hawks closed the half in style, with Trae Young burying a buzzer-beating three a few minutes later to bring Atlanta within a 60-59 margin.

The story of the first half was the play of Parker, who scored 25 points (on 9 of 13 shooting) and grabbed eight rebounds in 19 minutes of action. He was flanked by 16 points from Young and, quietly, Atlanta’s defense stiffened to allow the comeback after a shaky first quarter.

The Hawks continued to build on their late first-half surge with a 7-2 run to open the third quarter, eventually taking a five-point lead.

There were fewer fireworks (on both ends) in the third quarter, with the Hawks generally holding a small lead. While Atlanta failed to score in the final 3:59 of the third, the Bucks couldn’t fully take advantage and the Hawks took a one-point edge to the fourth quarter.

The Young-Parker connection continued to roll, with Young dropping a no-look dime early in the period.

Shortly after, Young crossed the 2,000-point threshold but the Bucks also punched back. Milwaukee used a four-point possession — with the help of an offensive rebound — to reclaim the lead at 87-84 and, slowly, the Bucks extended their advantage to six points with less than five minutes remaining.

From there, the Hawks weren’t able to get over the hump. Atlanta had a few ill-timed turnovers and, in the final three minutes, the deficit was never less than seven points on the way to the 111-102 final.

From an individual standpoint, Parker and Young carried the banner for the Hawks. Parker produced 33 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, while Young added 29 points and seven assists. The prolific duo didn’t receive a lot of assistance on the offensive side of the court but, on the positive side, Atlanta’s defense was impressive after the first quarter.

The Hawks will continue their road trip on Friday with a match-up against the Indiana Pacers. Stay tuned.