Just a few hours before tip-off on Friday evening, the Atlanta Hawks caught a break. Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out with a back ailment for the Milwaukee Bucks and, in conjunction with the previously anticipated absence of Eric Bledsoe, the door seemed to be ajar for the Hawks to stop an eight-game losing streak under circumstances that originally seemed tenuous. However, the Hawks flopped in the first half and, on a night (unfortunately) headlined by an injury to Trae Young, Atlanta’s losing streak extended to nine games with a 112-86 defeat.
The Hawks stumbled out of the gate, with the Bucks scoring the first eight points while Atlanta flailed on the offensive end. Things did stabilize a bit from there, with Young keying a 7-2 response to get back in touch.
Trae scheduled a fly-by. pic.twitter.com/KK3LMNqttG— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 28, 2019
The Bucks quickly took control, though, using a 10-2 run to grab a double-digit advantage. Atlanta’s offense struggled mightily throughout the first half, including a 15-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.
Kevin Huerter opened the second quarter with five straight points and, for a brief moment, the Hawks got back within a seven-point margin. From there, the rest of the half was all Milwaukee, with a 20-6 extended run ensuring that the visitors would take a 23-point lead into the break.
Unfortunately, the biggest moment of the half occurred with about two minutes to go, when Young went to the ground — and immediately to the locker room — with what the Hawks later announced to be a right ankle sprain.
Trae Young falls awkwardly to the floor and has to be helped off by teammates pic.twitter.com/mMJet85DwE— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 28, 2019
Atlanta scored a season-low 40 points in the first half and, in general, it was a lackluster performance after a three-day break. The Hawks shot 35 percent from the floor with 11 turnovers and, defensively, Milwaukee generated anything they wanted, particularly with Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez starring from a scoring perspective.
The second half was largely academic in nature, with the Bucks quickly extending their 23-point halftime to 32 in the opening minutes. To their (small) credit, the Hawks did put together a 13-4 run to cut the lead to 21 at the end of the third quarter but, in short, a full-blown challenge never materialized.
In fact, the Bucks opened the fourth quarter with a 9-0 run and any (faint) hope of competitiveness evaporated. The Hawks did string together a response but, ultimately, the margin settled at 26 points, with a full quarter of garbage time for good measure.
The Hawks were led with 20 points (including four threes) from Allen Crabbe and a season-high 16 rebounds (to go with nine points) from John Collins, with 12 points from Huerter and 11 points from Cam Reddish. As a team, though, the offense was brutal from wire to wire, and that set the tone for what was an embarrassing performance.
The Hawks will return to action less than 24 hours after the final buzzer, with a back-to-back clash against the Chicago Bulls on the road.