Hawks use balanced attack to sink BucksNov 29, 2007 - 3:44 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) - With a more balanced attack, the Atlanta Hawks finally prevailed over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Joe Johnson led six players in double figures with 21 points and Josh Childress scored six of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Hawks cruised to a 96-80 win over the Bucks on Wednesday.
Johnson scored 12 of his 21 points in the first quarter, and Childress and Zaza Pachulia helped weather a fourth-quarter comeback by combining for 14 points.
Rookie Al Horford scored eight of his 12 points in the first quarter and veteran Tyronn Lue added 11 points, including two crucial 3-pointers.
"We just wanted to play team basketball," said Josh Smith, who finished with 10 points. "We had to come in and get something going at home. We had to come out and establish ourselves early."
Atlanta hasn't had much success against Milwaukee of late, dropping eight of its last 11 contests entering Wednesday's game at Philips Arena.
The Bucks prevailed in the last contest between the two clubs, posting a 106-95 decision on November 17. In that one, Smith single-handedly carried the team, tallying a career-high 38 points on 12-for-16 shooting.
While the high-flying Smith was not as prolific from the field in this one, he was still pretty good. The 21-year-old, who became the youngest player to record 600 blocks on Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls, scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished seven assists and swatted five shots.
"I could have had two points and eight rebounds, and I'd take that with a win," Smith said. "I wanted to do the things to help my team win."
Atlanta opened up the second quarter with a 13-0 run to take a 41-28 lead, capped by Lue's 3-pointer with 7:54 remaining.
Childress had four points during the run, including a thunderous fast-break dunk from Smith with 8:27 remaining to give Atlanta a 38-28 edge.
It was a quarter of futility for the Bucks, who missed their first five shots and were held without a field goal for the first 4 1/2 minutes. The club managed just 14 points in the quarter on 29 percent shooting (6-for-21) and was 0-for-7 from 3-point range.
"The second quarter really destroyed us," said Bucks guard Michael Redd, who scored just four points in the frame. "It was a tough shooting night for us tonight, especially in the second quarter. When you're not making shots, you have to be able to defend. We didn't do that well tonight, either."
Milwaukee scored six of the first eight points in the final period to cut the lead to 75-72 on Ramon Sessions' two free throws with 10:09 remaining.
But fresh off their 12-point setback against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Atlanta did not quit. The Hawks, who led by as many as 16 in the second quarter, scored 13 of the next 15 points to put the game away.
"I think we had a real disappointing outing against the Bulls," Johnson said. "For us to come out to a great start tonight showed a sign of maturity."
"We really did a good job defensively," Horford, said. "In the fourth quarter, the guys did a great job getting stops and executing offensively."
The two clubs fumbled the next four possessions with three turnovers and a missed jumper before Lue drained a 3-pointer with 9:13 remaining to give Atlanta a six-point lead.
After Mo Williams followed with a jumper, Atlanta tallied the next five buckets put the game away, building an 88-74 advantage on Childress' put-back with 5:08 remaining.
"We've been pretty good as of late in the fourth quarter," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "That's where the game is won and lost a lot of nights. We stepped up again tonight and made a conscious effort to defend and rebound the ball."
Milwaukee, which turned the ball over 20 times, coughed up the basketball seven times in the final quarter.
"Atlanta did a nice job attacking," Milwaukee coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We had a hard time keeping the ball in front of us, because they broke us down off the dribble consistently. It was the type of attack we expected, but we just weren't ready to move our feet."
Atlanta took a 52-42 advantage into the intermission before the Bucks cut the lead to five on a jumper by rookie Yi Jianlian with 10:25 remaining in the third. But Joe Johnson and Anthony Johnson answered with a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a free throw by Redd to restore the 10 point cushion.
Mario West provided a first-quarter spark for the battered Hawks. Making his first professional start, the rookie from Georgia Tech replaced forward Marvin Williams - who was sidelined with a strained right hip - and finished with four points and three rebounds in 15 minutes.
"I was a little nervous," said West, an Atlanta area native who walked on with both the Yellow Jackets and the Hawks. "I'm really kind of speechless. It's a blessing to play for the home team and to play for these guys."
Redd scored 24 and Mo Williams added 23 for the Bucks, who have lost two straight.
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