Hawks stay alive, stave off cold-shooting Bucks

The Sports Network
5/1/2010 12:05:29 AM
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Milwaukee, WI (Sports Network) - Jamal Crawford scored 24 points and Joe Johnson added 22, and Atlanta used a giant run in the third quarter to beat Milwaukee, 83-69, to force a deciding seventh game in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Al Horford totaled 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Hawks, who will host the final game in the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. (et). The winner of that tilt will face second-seeded Orlando in the next round.

Atlanta lost the previous contest, 111-104, at Philips Arena.

"In Game 5 we played great defensively, but we just didn't handle our business coming down the stretch," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I thought tonight we kept our composure and did everything we needed to do."

Milwaukee, trying for its first playoff series win since 2001, was held to a franchise-low for playoff scoring and gave up 19 straight points in the fateful third quarter. The Bucks' previous low was 74 points, on April 23, 2006 at Detroit in a series opener.

The Bucks, who have lost three consecutive opening-round series since falling to Philadelphia in the 2001 Eastern Conference finals, were ahead by three at the half, but went 3-of-17 from the field in the third quarter. They finished 32.9 percent for the game.

Carlos Delfino led the Bucks with 20 points, but Milwaukee's starting backcourt tandem of John Salmons and Brandon Jennings combined to go 6-of-28 from the field for a total of 20 points.

"We've got one more, but we've got to strap it up and play Game 7," Jennings said. "We won down there before so I know we can do it again."

Delfino's layup started the third quarter, but the Bucks went without a point until there were under four minutes left in the period. During that time, the Hawks scored 19 in a row. Mike Bibby started it with a three-pointer and Johnson capped it with a jumper with 3:52 remaining for a 50-36 lead.

"It just happened to be one of those great third quarters," Woodson said. "We finally bounced out of a funk offensively and were able to make our defense work for us. We rebounded the ball and were able to get it out and get some easy buckets."

Milwaukee missed 12 consecutive shots in that span until Luke Ridnour finally broke the spell with a layup at the 3:39 mark.

"Guys weren't comfortable out there, they weren't relaxed," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "We had some blank stares going on out there."

Horford's two free throws pushed the lead to 58-38 with 2:02 remaining in the quarter and it was 60-45 moving to the fourth. The Bucks avoided setting a franchise-low for points in a playoff quarter only after Salmons made two free throws with 4.2 seconds left.

"That's when we're at our best," Crawford said. "We're getting stops, we're moving the ball, getting out and running and using our athleticism. We gave them a little bit of a different look tonight."

Milwaukee got back into the game with a 10-0 push early in the fourth. Jerry Stackhouse hit a three-pointer from the left corner with under six minutes left. Bibby was called for a foul on the play for plowing into Kurt Thomas, who was setting a screen. Thomas made the free throw and Stackhouse added two more from the charity stripe to end the burst for a 69-62 margin with 5:14 remaining.

Josh Smith then blocked Stackhouse's layup drive from the right baseline and Johnson countered with a jumper from the right elbow. After Delfino missed a shot, Crawford knifed through the lane for a layup and an 11-point lead with 3:21 left.

Milwaukee didn't get closer than nine the rest of the way.

Stackhouse sang the national anthem prior to the game, but it was an awful start to the contest for both clubs. Atlanta went 13-of-40 from the field in the opening half. The Bucks weren't much better at 13-of-36, and they held a 34-31 edge at the break.

Horford's layup moved the Hawks to a 16-10 lead with nearly four minutes left in the opening quarter, but the Bucks scored the next nine, capped by a Stackhouse jumper in the final minute.

Ahead 19-16 going into the second, the Bucks failed to score for the first four minute of the quarter. Atlanta opened the period with a 9-0 burst, finished by Crawford's three-ball.

Delfino then got hot by sinking three consecutive shots from beyond the arc, and two free throws from Jennings ended an 11-0 Milwaukee spurt for a 30-25 edge.

Game Notes

With their 11-point third quarter, the Bucks barely avoided their lowest scoring frame in playoff history. That was 10 in the second period at Detroit on April 29, 2004 in the Pistons' Game 5 series-clinching first-round win...Jennings had 12 points and Thomas 11...Bibby and Smith each scored 10 for Atlanta, which finished 38.3 percent from the field.

Jamal Crawford (Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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