Hawks 115, Bucks 102
The former local high school phenom, drafted 17th overall in 2004, gets tired of disappointing family members and friends who watch the Hawks play at Philips Arena.
Smith had 28 points and a career-high 18 rebounds to help Atlanta snap a seven-game losing streak with a 115-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
“We all got off to a bad start,” Smith said after the Hawks rallied from a seven-point deficit late in the third quarter. “We didn’t want to get embarrassed, and it was headed that way.”
Earl Boykins led Milwaukee with 36 points to match the career high he set in a Jan. 24 loss at Sacramento. The Bucks, who had just nine players in uniform, have lost eight of nine overall. On the road, Milwaukee has dropped five straight and 16 of 17.
“We’re not going to give up on the season,” said Charlie Bell, who matched a season high with 28 points. “We’re going to still go out there and try to win games. In the third quarter, they started to knock down some shots. Plus, their athleticism really killed us tonight.”
After Bell’s three-point play put the Bucks up 83-76 with 3:05 left in the third, they scored just one field goal on their next 11 possessions. Coach Larry Krystkowiak blamed the Hawks’ 52 rebounds, 16 more than Milwaukee’s, as causing the Bucks’ demise.
“The rebounding disparity was huge,” Krystkowiak said. “We got into missing shots, and they got second shots. They gained some energy from dunking the ball, and we had some lapses defensively, which hurt us tonight.”
Salim Stoudamire finished 21 points, going 7-of-11 on 3-point attempts for the Hawks. His 3 from the right corner padded Atlanta’s lead to 100-82 with 7:47 remaining.
Smith, who attended nearby McEachern High School before transferring to Oak Hill (Va.) Academy for his senior season, was only 18 in his first NBA season. Though Smith occasionally takes bad shots and sometimes fails to concentrate defensively, Hawks coach Mike Woodson believes the 6-foot-9 forward responded to his halftime challenge.
Smith averages 16 points and 8.5 rebounds, and his 2.9 blocks rank second in the league. Unfortunately, he flashed a major weakness near the end of the first half, when Ruben Patterson faked a move to the top of the key before taking an inbound pass and giving the Bucks a 62-60 lead with an uncontested dunk.
“We gave up 62 points in the first half, and you’re not going to beat very many teams doing that,” Woodson said. “That was the discussion going in at halftime, that we had to come out and defend.”
The Bucks were without leading scorers Michael Redd and Mo Williams, starting center Andrew Bogut and reserve forward Charlie Villanueva. Along with Brian Skinner and Bobby Simmons, Milwaukee had six players not make the trip.
“We had a lot of fatigue kicking in, considering this is our third game in four nights,” Patterson said. “We just have to keep working hard.”
Smith, who dunked a putback on Tyronn Lue’s missed jumper to make it 83-83, was proud of his 18 rebounds.
“Yes, that was a big accomplishment,” Smith said. “I would never think about getting 18 rebounds in a game, but I got it tonight.”
Hawks F Shelden Williams, a big disappointment as the No. 5 overall draft choice, had 12 points and 14 rebounds for his first double-double since a Dec. 29 loss at Houston. … Milwaukee fell to 13-32 against the Eastern Conference, 4-20 on the road. … Atlanta improved to 15-31 vs. the East, 10-13 at home. … Krystkowiak, who took charge when Terry Stotts was fired on March 14, dropped to 4-7 as Bucks coach.