Some scorching hot shooting in the fourth quarter lifted the Atlanta Hawks to a 111-104 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
With playoff seeding on the line for both teams, it was the Hawks who were able to execute down the stretch to put the Bucks away. Bogdan Bogdanovic led the way for Atlanta with 32 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 31 points and 14 rebounds in defeat for Milwaukee.
Let's jump to the takeaways.
Bogey and Lou bury Bucks
Trailing 78-70 through three quarters, the Hawks were unable to get their offence flowing.
Then, Bogdanovic and Williams caught fire. The guard duo combined for 27 points in the period on 9-for-10 shooting from the floor, with both burying four triples each in the process.
HUGE 4th quarters for @TeamLou23 & @LeaderOfHorde in the @ATLHawks win. 🔥- NBA (@NBA) April 26, 2021
Lou Will: 15 PTS (5-5 FGM), 4 3PM
Bogdan: 12 PTS (4-5 FGM), 4 3PM pic.twitter.com/T2MfgEfrKg
The extraordinary explosion carried the Hawks to a 41-point fourth quarter, with the Bucks being made to pay for a series of defensive breakdowns and lazy closeouts.
Bogdanovic ended the night with 32 points in total, including six made 3's, continuing his hot stretch of form to carry the offence with Trae Young still sidelined with an ankle injury.
Hawks find their way to the free-throw line
If you looked at the box score at half time one stat would have stuck out to you. The Hawks had attempted ZERO free-throws.
By the end of the game they had 23, in which they connected on 18 in what felt like a constant parade to the charity stripe.
"Too many free throws and too many threes. That's a bad recipe," Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said postgame. "We fouled them a few times late intentionally, but second half, I think they had 23 free throws. Lou Williams made some plays, Bogdanovic. You just can't give up free throws and 3s. That leads to a 41-point fourth."
Veteran forward Danilo Gallinari was the chief culprit, finishing 8-for-8 from the line to reach his total of 15 points.
YESSSSSSSSSIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR pic.twitter.com/5Z9RSy0NPN- Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) April 26, 2021
Milwaukee's costly loss
On the back of two straight wins over the Philadelphia 76ers, the Bucks had opened the door slightly for a late push for one of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference.
The door may have finally slammed shut, with the loss leaving them 2.5 games back of the Sixers and 3.5 back of Brooklyn with 12 games left to play.
The Greek Freak filled the stat sheet:- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 26, 2021
31 PTS | 14 REB | 4 AST | 11/17 FG pic.twitter.com/7kPqrFAfyq
Milwaukee do have two consecutive games against the Nets next week that could make things interesting, but they will need to be almost perfect from here on out.
Middleton comes out cold
A night earlier, the Bucks cruised to a blowout win over Philadelphia who were missing Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
With seemingly all Milwaukee players cashing in, it was an odd sight to see Middleton finish the night with just four points on 0-for-6 shooting in 19 minutes on the floor.
It was just the second time the former All-Star had finished in single digits this season, with a slow start against the Hawks to follow. Middleton had just seven points on 3-for-9 shooting in the first half, before a hustle play in the third quarter seemed to light the spark.
Khris tonight against the Hawks:- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 26, 2021
23 PTS | 6 REB | 2 AST | 3/5 3PT pic.twitter.com/TE1keWUzRO
Sprinting to retrieve a loose ball off an Antetokounmpo miss, Middleton worked his way to the free-throw line and knocked down both to give him 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting. He would finish the night with 23 points on 9-for-18 from the floor, adding six assists in the process.
Hawks Play-In watch
While we already mentioned the costly nature of the loss for Milwaukee, the win has kept the Hawks chances of home-court advantage in the first round alive. Atlanta is tied with the New York Knicks at 34-27, only in fifth spot due to the Knicks holding the tie-breaker. In a potential series with New York, gaining home court could be pivotal in a meeting between two evenly matched outfits.
Atlanta will head to Detroit to complete a back-to-back, while Milwaukee has one night off before heading to Charlotte to play the Hornets.
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