Bucks-Hawks Preview

The Associated Press

Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew was anything but pleased after watching his team get outplayed from start to finish in the opener of a three-game homestand.

The Milwaukee Bucks, meanwhile, won their last game after coming out strong from the opening tip.

Atlanta aims to get back on track Wednesday night versus Milwaukee, which hopes to avoid a ninth loss in its last 10 visits to Philips Arena.

The Hawks (37-30) followed a 1-6 stretch with three straight wins, but saw their woes resume Monday in a 127-113 loss to Dallas. Atlanta gave up its most points this season and allowed the Mavericks to shoot 57.3 percent.

"They brought the game to us from the very beginning, they had us on our heels all night long," Drew said. "We're going to have to just roll our sleeves up. I can't make any excuses for a performance like that. This is just the time of the year where we have to suck it up."

Jeff Teague scored 19 points to lead eight Atlanta players in double figures, but the Hawks lost for only the second time in 16 games when they make more than half of their shots.

"Kind of have to go back to square one a little bit and start with the basics on the defense," forward Anthony Tolliver said. "At the end of the day, it's only one game, but we've got some work to do."

Two nights after erasing a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 115-109 victory over Orlando, Milwaukee (34-32) made a point to come out focused Tuesday versus Portland. Brandon Jennings scored 24 points and Monta Ellis added 21 along with nine rebounds and eight assists in a 102-95 win.

The Bucks, who outscored the Trail Blazers 31-8 in the second quarter, led by as many as 27 before holding on.

"We just wanted to come out with a lot of energy," said Ellis, who appears to be OK after injuring his left wrist late in the game. "We didn't want to play with this team and try to climb back like we had to do (Sunday). They made a run, which this is the NBA. But we were able to close the game out."

Milwaukee shot 48.3 percent, including 9 of 19 from 3-point range. The Bucks have gone 33-17 when shooting at least 40.0 percent compared to 1-15 otherwise.

"When guys are hitting shots all around, it makes everything much easier," said Ellis, who has topped 20 points in 11 of his last 12 games, shooting 50.4 percent in that stretch. "That's how we got the big lead, sharing the ball. Everybody was in a groove, everybody was feeling good."

Milwaukee could have a hard time keeping things going if its recent efforts in Atlanta are any indication. The Bucks have especially struggled on the defensive end during their 1-8 stretch on the road in this series, with the Hawks shooting 50.6 percent.

Atlanta, among the teams the Bucks are chasing as they try to climb up from the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference, has taken four of five from Milwaukee overall, including a 103-102 road win in the only previous matchup this season Feb. 23. Teague, Devin Harris and Al Horford combined for 67 points, with Horford making a go-ahead baby hook shot with 5.9 seconds left.

Josh Smith, who was coveted by Milwaukee before the trade deadline, had 15 points and 13 rebounds that night. Atlanta is 16-3 when he pulls down more than 10 boards.

Bucks starting forward Ersan Ilyasova, who had averaged 22.3 points and 13.3 rebounds over a three-game stretch before Tuesday, sat out against Portland due to left hip pain and is unlikely to face the Hawks.

These teams meet again Sunday in Milwaukee.