Bucks Win Thriller in Atlanta
Bucks Win Thriller in Atlanta
By Jimmy Majewski
The Milwaukee Bucks won a thriller in Atlanta Wednesday night, as they won the crucial Game 5 of the series, 91-87.
In a game that had everything, including a huge comeback, and Hawks Center Al Horford banking in a three-pointer from the front late in the fourth quarter, the Bucks came out on top after 48 minutes.
Hawks Guard Joe Johnson fouled out late in the fourth quarter, and it seemed to give the Bucks the opportunity they needed to take advantage of something, sparking a big run.
An 18-4 run late in the fourth quarter gave the Bucks the final push they needed to grab a victory in Atlanta, which was key if the Bucks wanted to win this series.
Bucks Guard John Salmons said that the team just had to keep plugging away late in the game.
“It wasn’t pretty by any means, but we stuck with it. We were right there, we knew if we just stuck with it, who knows what could happen, and we got the win,” he said.
With the win, it gives the Bucks a (3-2) series lead, and the chance to wrap the series up Friday in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center.
Leading the way in scoring for the Bucks was Brandon Jennings who notched 25 points, followed by John Salmons with 19.
Jennings after the game said, “They made their run, and finally we made our run towards the end. We took some shots, and just executed.”
The bench was a key to the Bucks success as well, as Luke Ridnour was the spark they needed, putting up 15 points in just 18 minutes.
Bucks Guard Brandon Jennings was clearly not short on confidence heading into this game, as before the game he said, “We’re just going to do what we’re supposed to do, just hoop.”
Jennings did just that, as he got off to a hot start, knocking down his first five shots from the field en route to those 25 points he wound up with.
Free throw disparity was huge in the decision of this game, as the Bucks wound up with ten more made free throws than the Hawks, 23-13.
Al Horford led the Hawks in scoring with 25 points, followed by Marvin Williams, who put up 22 points.
Fresh off of being handed the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award prior to tip-off, Jamal Crawford contributed 11 points off the bench for the Hawks.
Now the series shifts back to Milwaukee, and Bucks players could not be more happy about that.
John Salmons said, “Just gotta go play, and see what happens. We have the momentum right now, we have the advantage on the home court.”
Brandon Jennings said, “It’s going to be crazy, but this Atlanta Hawks team, they’re going to come in and play hard, so we have to be ready.”
Al Horford hit an emphatic fade away jump shot from just inside the three point line just before the buzzer to give the Hawks a three point lead heading into halftime, 46-43.
Horford led the Hawks in scoring at the half with 12 points, followed by Forward Marvin Williams, who had 11 points respectfully.
Leading the Bucks in scoring at the half was Brandon Jennings with 16 points. The next closest Bucks player to him scoring wise was Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Mbah a Moute, known for being a defensive specialist, and a just six-points per game scorer during the regular season, already had seven points at the half.
Brandon Jennings at the half said what the numbers reflected, that the Bucks were giving away too many offensive rebounds to the Hawks, having already given up six.
“The game is up and down right now. We’ve just got to keep it close, and just try and get a win. We need to continue on the offensive glass, they’re winning that right now. Hopefully in the second half we can hold them to one shot,” he said.
His hopes for offensive rebounding for the Hawks to stop did not come true, and that became proven early, as less than a minute into the second half the Bucks gave up yet another one.
After scoring just four points in the first half, Bucks Guard John Salmons had five quick points in the first three minutes of the second half.
Hawks Forward Josh Smith was taken back to the locker room area after receiving a cut to his face early in the third quarter that required attention.
Smith would return to the game late in the third quarter after receiving five stitches above his right eye.
The Hawks ballooned their lead up to 13 points late in the third quarter, but the Bucks cut it to eight points heading into the final period.
After the third quarter, Hawks Coach Mike Woodson said, “We struggled the first half. Their defense was solid, ours was pretty good as well. We had a solid third quarter. We didn’t play that great the last two minutes, but I was pleased.”
To start the fourth quarter, the Bucks featured a lineup that saw Luc Richard Mbah a Moute playing Center, with veteran Jerry Stackhouse at Power Forward, a clearly undersized lineup.
The Bucks cut the lead to four with just under six minutes to go, but a fast 5-0 run by the Hawks blew their lead back up to nine with just over four minutes to go.
A layup by Bucks Forward Ersan Ilyasova, followed by a Carlos Delfino three-pointer with just over one minute to go in the fourth quarter, gave the Bucks their first lead in the second half, 86-82.
This would be the final time the lead swapped hands during the game, as the Bucks never gave the lead back up the rest of the way.
In past years, when the first round was just a best-of-five series, this game would have meant more, but it still had huge implications.
Heading into this game, each team had won on their home court during the series. The series started off in Atlanta, where the Hawks won the first two games there to take a (2-0) series lead.
During the first two games of the series, the Hawks won by ten points each time.
But the Bucks headed home for games three and four, and won each of them respectfully to tie the series up at (2-2).
Milwaukee won game three at home by 18 points, sparked by John Salmons’ 22 points, and seven assists.
Game four was a closer game, as the Bucks won by just seven points. Brandon Jennings led the way for the Bucks with 23 points, but he wasn‘t that far ahead, as Carlos Delfino, and John Salmons each chipped in 22 points respectively.
If the Bucks plan on winning this series, they needed to win one game on the road, as the Hawks have the home-court advantage by playing four of the seven games there during the series due to a better record.
That’s exactly what they did, and now, on to Milwaukee for the next chapter in this Playoff book.