Hawks show some resolve in win over Bucks

No need to look at the scoreboard to know who won. Al Horford and Josh Smith can tell you the playoff sereies is going back to Atlanta for a Game 7. (AP photo)

No need to look at the scoreboard to know who won. Al Horford and Josh Smith can tell you the playoff sereies is going back to Atlanta for a Game 7. (AP photo)

(UPDATED AT 10:58)

MILWAUKEE — One game after humiliation, one loss before elimination, in a game on the road, they showed us something. Not talent, but resolve. Not finesse, but determination.

Not the things that crush a team’s salary structure, just the things that crush opponents in the postseason.

Who knew?

“Now nobody expects us to do it,” the Hawks’ Jamal Crawford was saying before Friday’s playoff game against Milwaukee. “So maybe the pressure changes a little bit.”

It came off as a wonderful pre-game rationalization by a struggling player for a desperate team. But maybe he was right. After hanging with Milwaukee for one ugly half, the Hawks started to look again like the team that won 53 games during the regular season and the first two of these playoffs.

Playing as if somebody suddenly pulled needles out of a voodoo doll, the Hawks went on runs of 19-0 and 27-2 in the third quarter. They built a 20-point lead, held on during the almost inevitable Bucks’ rally and eventually put the clamps on an 83-69 win at the Bradley Center. Crawford led them with 24 points.

Their season is not over. By virtue of only their second road playoff victory in the past 12 tries, there will be a Game 7 on Sunday at Philips Arena. Recent history should prevent anybody from making a prediction.

Surprised?

Al Horford blocks a shot by Milwaukee's Carlos Delfino, an example of the Hawks' improved defense in Game 6. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo)

Al Horford blocks a shot by Milwaukee's Carlos Delfino, an example of the Hawks' improved defense in Game 6. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photo)

“I don’t know, man — I could care less what people expect and what they don’t expect,” Joe Johnson said when asked about the team being written off after Wednesday’s meltdown in the final four minutes of Game 5, when the Hawks’ let a nine-point lead slip away and lost at home. “It’s about us players and the coaches and everybody in this locker room. There’s nobody else. As long as we stick together, I think we can overcome anything.

“We’re professionals. This is what we do. We lost a game at home, and now we have to go get it back.”

They were words you wanted to here, and the way you wanted to hear them.

The Hawks played a few minutes of zone defense for the first time in the series. But the difference Friday wasn’t a change in philosophy as much as it was a change in effort. Milwaukee shot only 32.9 percent (25 for 76) and missed 11 consecutive attempts at one point in the third quarter. The Bucks had some open looks, but not nearly as many as in the previous three games, thanks to players fighting through screens. Rookie guard Brandon Jennings was only 4-for-15 and didn’t make a shot until there was 1:41 left in the third.

“Guys just got over screens,” Josh Smith said. “We really didn’t have to help [with switches]. It was just the will. Desire. We wanted to win this game.”

In the previous three games, the undermanned Bucks showed more resolve, more heart, more intelligence. Before Game 6, they established that they could even sing better: Stackhouse sang the National Anthem. (What were the Hawks going to do, boo?)

The Hawks trailed 34-31 at the intermission. They weren’t fluid. We saw too much of what Mike Woodson didn’t want to see. The Bucks closing off the angles and not allowing the Hawks to drive into the lane. Johnson turning over the ball on the dribble. Marvin Williams and Al Horford both misreading teammates’ next moves and passing to air. Mike Bibby throwing the ball into Smith’s back on a fast break.

But something strange happened in the second half. But after Carlos Delfino made a jumper to open the third quarter and give Milwaukee a 36-31 lead, it was like somebody changed the channel to a different game. The Hawks scored the next 19 points to go up by 14, 50-36. The lead soon mushroomed to 20. They shared the ball on offense. They clamped down on defense. Milwaukee couldn’t hit anything.

Almost inevitably, the Bucks rallied and whittled the lead down to seven. But just as everybody started having Game 5 flashbacks, Smith blocked Stackhouse at one end and Johnson made a jumper at the other. The Hawks displayed all of those intangibles that seemingly had left their locker room.

“I wish we could play like that all the time,” Al Horford said.

Yes. But at least we didn’t have to wait until next season to see it.

130 comments Add your comment

kirkinga

April 30th, 2010
9:56 pm

The Hawks seem to have learned how to win a crucial 1st Round road game. While it is true they are the more talented team, we forget these Hawks are not that far removed from a decade of irrelevance.

They are still learning to be a good playoff team. Regular season success and talent don’t automatically translate into easy playoff series or wins. Just ask the Dallas Mavericks.

82Dawg

April 30th, 2010
9:56 pm

Finally they looked like the Hawks are suppose to. Hope they can continue this on Sunday.

NCBravesFan

April 30th, 2010
10:03 pm

Hawks following the pattern of the season … they win after a big 4th quarter meltdown in the previous game. They are fatally flawed, but should be able to meet expectations (lose in 2nd round).

And what’s up with Joe Johnson? Is he feeling the pressure, or just a ball hog?

OldTimer

April 30th, 2010
10:07 pm

We beat the team we had to beat.
We beat them in the dust and heat.

Hawks vs Bucks

April 30th, 2010
10:12 pm

Dear Hawks,
if you can get to the playoffs again next year, try to finish it off before game 7 (boston, miami, and now milwaukee)

nside hawkfan

April 30th, 2010
10:13 pm

praise Jesus, the hawks are back!

Dawgs2010

April 30th, 2010
10:13 pm

Finally! I can hold my head up high tomorrow. Thats the Hawks I have pulled for all year. I was sick these past few days. I have walked around in a funk.

Thank You for giving me hope.

BIRDDAWGONE

April 30th, 2010
10:13 pm

Jeff, thanks for reporting, I almost forgot you had it in you. And thanks for lifting the Bradley curse.

Jeff Schultz

April 30th, 2010
10:14 pm

The Hawks Will Win The National Championship Game! Ya Diggggg?!!!

Gilley

April 30th, 2010
10:14 pm

I knew we would win but it was an ugly win at first until we blew away in the 3rd quarter. I will be in Philips and I will remain humble because we have to close games.

Jim

April 30th, 2010
10:15 pm

They only won because the bucks went cold. They may win game 7 but the magic series will be a sweep like last year. Especially with all the rest they are getting.

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
10:18 pm

Bucks couldn’t make anything 3rd period. If they shoot 35%, they win the game. This was not a hawks win but a bucks loss. They had open shots that weren’t dropping. It wasn’t defense. If you think Game 7 is a cakewalk, you are sadly mistaken. This team only scored 83 points. Orlando will crush this team playing like this. 38% from the field??? Do any of you pom pom waving people know what you are talking about?????

Harry Dunne

April 30th, 2010
10:18 pm

The hawks go and TOTALLY REDEEM THEMSELVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GAswagg

April 30th, 2010
10:20 pm

They showed a true team in the 2nd half just take it back to ATL close it out and be ready to battle ORL and Pull off a true upset go Hawks Fly High

Barkin'Dog

April 30th, 2010
10:20 pm

NCBravesFan – who wrote – what’s up with Joe Johnson? Is he feeling the pressure, or just a ball hog?

DUDE! Leave Joe alone, man. He brought his game tonight, unlike the last game. He always comes back strong after a poor performance. He felt like he let fans down, and took charge of the game… like a leader should.

You may not want Joe here, but there are many of his fans who do. Frankly, fans like you don’t deserve a star like Joe- or a championship team for that matter, the way you talk/post. Too much Bad karma around these blogs to ever expect good things in return.

I’m proud of the Hawks, win or lose. They are in position to advance – which is all we wanted – and they’ll do it from home court. Go Hawks!! Shock the Deer Bucks, then shock Orlando and your fair-weather fans… you won’t shock me.

Dawgs2010

April 30th, 2010
10:20 pm

Ugly: Did you choose that name because it describes your mother or her kootch?

Greg

April 30th, 2010
10:20 pm

I would certainly hope the Hawks won’t choke away game 7, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they did. If they do win, I can just see the Hawks and their crappy head coach spinning it as if they’d done something that they weren’t supposed to do. Everything needs to be kept in the proper context and, unless the Hawks unexpectedly play the Magic one hell of a series, then Woody still should be gone. No question about it if this franchise is serious about continuing to improve and competing for championships.

CrazyDiamond

April 30th, 2010
10:22 pm

OK HAWKS! This win should be the confidence builder the team needs to win again on Sunday. If only they had the confidence to win the next series.

Hey Hawks, make me a believer! I’m ready!

GAswagg

April 30th, 2010
10:22 pm

Now lets run with victories non atop

Show me state

April 30th, 2010
10:22 pm

Great win Hawks to force a game 7…..Go Hawks!!!!!!!!

Anthony

April 30th, 2010
10:24 pm

Mr. Ugly
Didyou have a bad week? You act like you don’t care about the hawks so why are you even typing. Be happy we still get to play another game. True fans already know these things you say and don’t need to be reminded. We’re just enjoying the moment. go root for the Magic.

Monger

April 30th, 2010
10:25 pm

the hawks tried there best to blow a 20 point lead, letting the bucks cut it to 7 in the 4th. Once again the hawks cant make a 4th quarter shot to save their lives…really sad. Of course, what do you expect when you have the worst NBA coach in the league, who has no way of keeping pace with other more talented coaches when trying to make adjustments. He has no game planning other than isolation plays, so if they arent getting fast breaks and since they seem to have nobody on the team that can make long jump shots or threes (other than Jamaal, and he’s streaky), they expose what is the most horrid, hideous, terrible half-court game in the NBA…Its a joke, and Joe Johnson is laughable….HA HA HA HA…he thinks he is an “elite” player, he cant take over a game to save his life….every game I see him in he is briking shot after shot in the 4th quarter, he’s maybe had 2 or 3 games where he has been truly dominant late in the game, besides that he is not a team player, when he’s shooting 1 for 9 or whatever, he continues to shoot the ball…His defense is sub par, and he doesnt seem like he wants to be in ATL. The hawks made a MORE THAN REASONABLE, in fact WAY more than he’s worth offer, and he turned his head at it, like the premaddona he is….let him go, and let woodson go right behind him, try and trade bibby and marvin for a true center, and build your team around Smoove, Big Al, Jamaal, and Teague…Draft a Center in the 1st round, and go from there, and we will be much better…and have more cap room…the worst thing this franchise can do is resign Joe and Woody, that will waste alot of money, and assure us of more years of 1st and 2nd round playoff defeats…

-Monger

Jeff Schultz

April 30th, 2010
10:26 pm

Hey guys! I wanna let you know that the The Hawks Will Win The National Championship Game! Ya Diggggg?!!!

Patrick

April 30th, 2010
10:28 pm

Assuming the strike-through sentence is sloppy editing and not a creative flourish?

Barkin'Dog

April 30th, 2010
10:28 pm

Ugly said – Do any of you pom pom waving people know what you are talking about?????

Maybe not, ugly, but we’ll wave ‘em and see what happens. Things aren’t always as they seem. The Bucks won the last game because the hawks shot poorly too. I hope you’re around when they break through and win this series. They can beat Orlando, as well… because no one expects them to. They’ll have nothing to lose, according to most. If they’re good enough to advance, watch the ‘magic’ the Hawks bring to the next series.

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
10:31 pm

No, the moniker described the game tonight. You can call it what you want, but it was still an ugly win that had more to do with the bucks losing it than the hawks winning. A turd is a turd. You cheerleading pumpers are clueless. This team shot 38% from the field and you praise that? Bunch of clueless imbeciles on this blog.

Greg

April 30th, 2010
10:32 pm

The best news is that the Hawks at least momentarily stopped the “fear the dear” trash talk from the Milwaukee trolls.

As bad as the Hawks-Magic matchup is, the Bucks-Magic would be like a very good pro team playing a d-league team. Dwight Howard is going to have an absolute field day against either team.

NCBravesFan

April 30th, 2010
10:33 pm

@BarkinDawg: Joe brought what game? Isolation plays that yielded 22 points in 24 FGAs?? Taking contested shots, when Jamal was wide open and in plain sight?

And I am a big fan of the Hawks, thank you very much. I just think if you’re gonna spend $15mm+ per year on a player, you better be damn sure that player is gonna get you over the hump.

The Hawks won tonight because they played lockdown defense and shared the ball on offense. Not because Joe lead them to anything.

Greg

April 30th, 2010
10:33 pm

Fear the DEER

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
10:33 pm

Hey Barkin
Care to make a private wager on that potential Orlando series? I will even give you these odds.
The hawks will not win more than 1 game. I guess you missed the entire regular season as well as the series with the magic. Keep drinking the kool aid dawg.

Kid Shilleen

April 30th, 2010
10:34 pm

After reading yesterday the “letdown city” comments, this team really pulled one off tonight. To go up to Milwaukee and put one on like this is a statement. And I hope they bring that resolve back to Atl Sunday. The Hawks are a good NBA team and one I think is capable of playing with anyone else in the league. If they had lost tonight, it would have been one of those “letdown’s” of the decade. But as it is, there’s one more game. And by the way, nothing compares to the ‘80 Falcons and the ‘96 Braves. I mean nothing.

Blake

April 30th, 2010
10:37 pm

It would be like the Hawks to win game 6 and come back home and lose.But you know what,like years ago when Atlanta had a chance to knock off Boston in the Omni in game 6.Larry Bird said “they had their chance”!!!!

oldmikey

April 30th, 2010
10:46 pm

Jamal was not cold = win. Hope it continues Sunday. Joe just has to be average. If the defense can equal tonight we will win.

Najeh Davenpoop

April 30th, 2010
10:47 pm

Never been happier to be wrong. I can safely say I didn’t see this win coming.

On an unrelated note, this blog looks mad weird with no picture. What is this, Cynthia Tucker’s blog?

Barkin'Dog

April 30th, 2010
10:48 pm

Ugly – not praising 38% shooting. But it’s not like they average that all season. Are they averaging that for this series? The Hawks can get hot too, and make the other team shoot poorly. These games are played in series for a reason – some teams get hot hot – some not so hot. But if they win each series they keep advancing.

NC – glad you want to give me odds, my man. That’s really big of you – I could get odds anywhere. But, if you make your prop attractive enough, I’ll accept your private wager (although I swore off of doing that anymore). I could get great series odds online too. He!! – I just have a feeling about these guys, this season. So what if Jamal (the 1st-time playoff rookie) leads this team or Joe does? As long as they play and win as a team, they get it done. Stand by all you naysayers. Something ‘magical’ is coming your way. (Yeah, Ugly, I saw the reg. season action too – it will be different).

Go Hawks!! That’s all I’ve got to say!!

[...] Looks like the Crocks actually managed to pull it out.  Who [...]

MitchC

April 30th, 2010
10:50 pm

Jeff, I was channel surfing between the Braves and Hawks, so I didnt see the whole Hawks game, but, based on the parts I did see, the Hawks played very well after taking the lead.

This has been a very Jekyll -Hyde series for the Hawks. Two great games, two lousy games. A game that was good for the first part, and awful at the end, and a game with a bad first half, and a good second half.

My gut tells me the Hawks will find a way to pull out the Game 7 win on Sunday, and move on to face Orlando. I hope so, for everyone’s sake. It would be very sad to see all the hard work they did tonight, go to waste with a loss on Sunday.

Barkin'Dog

April 30th, 2010
10:50 pm

Sorry – that was Ugly offering me odds. NC was just bustin’ my chops.

Reid Adair

April 30th, 2010
10:57 pm

Wow, Jeff, was Joe Johnson serious with his comments about it just being them? Saying the fans basically don’t matter? To me, the coaches and players should have been more upset with Wednesday night’s debacle than any fan.

I guess we will see if they can win Game 7.

NCBravesFan

April 30th, 2010
10:58 pm

Barkin: enjoy game seven. I know I will. And I hope your “feeling” about this team is right … but I tend to think a team that struggles to consistently adjust on defense and stick together and share the ball on offense has a limited ceiling.

Hawks V Bucks: when ATL plays defense and attacks the rim on offense, they win. Hawks V Orlando – the game plan gets quite a bit harder.

Jesse

April 30th, 2010
11:05 pm

Lets not get ahead of ourselves here. Even if we beat the Bucks, how are we going to do against Orlando?

governor404

April 30th, 2010
11:06 pm

Once again talk of the Hawks’ demise is highly overrated, it was gut check time, they could have easily laid down on Woodson so apparently he has not lost his lockerroom, so calm down, the Bucks have shot their load so to speak, and finally we stopped switching so d… much and fought thru some screens, now let’s close these folks out on sunday and ride the momentum and still one of the first two home games vs the too rested Magic. Basketball teams are creatures of habit, they need to be playing not sitting round practicing,believe what i say, my Hawks will split the first two games vs the Magic, game 3 will be a classic n da hilite factory.
b

falcons pick(ed) spoon

April 30th, 2010
11:10 pm

Ugly- You sound like one of those Bucks fans who were sadly mistaken believing the Hawks would roll over. I bet you were in the arena yelling josh smith sucks too. You were probably telling whoever you were with that he’s a meanie because he blocks our shots and dunks too hard. Clown.

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
11:16 pm

Barkin
Do you do any research before you post? I guess not. Of course this WAS their worst shooting performance of the series. That was MY POINT!! Game 5 they shot better than the bucks! And LOST! Milw shot around 10% from the field 3rd qtr. That IS MY POINT! Yet you and some others act like this was a huge hawks statement game! The bucks LOST this because they couldn’t make a OPEN shot. Not the hawks d.

SOOOO do you want those odds. You did say to expect these hawks to do something special against the magic! I’m saying they won’t win more than 1. You’re backing off as expected. Logic taking over?

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
11:18 pm

Falcons
You sound like a 15 year old who snuck out of his bedroom and is typing on his mommy’s puter. If you can’t see through 38% shooting and a bucks worst quarter all season, well then son, you are helpless. Keep those blinders on kid.

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
11:26 pm

The silence is deafening.

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
11:27 pm

Like being at a hawks game!!!!

hawkfan

April 30th, 2010
11:27 pm

Hawks will advance … probably take Orlando to 7 … but thats it. Or is it?? Who cares, I love playoff basketball.

Joe Johnson needs to go

April 30th, 2010
11:29 pm

8-24 Joe? Come on. You are not Kobe. Speaking of Kobe, he has 24 points with 5 left in the 3rd. You had 22 with 24 shots! And you want star money. Can you say delusional person!

Ugly

April 30th, 2010
11:33 pm

Wow someone’s awake. Hey hawks fan. I see you’ve been guzzling the kool aid tonight and waving your pom pom’s with your blinders on. Please explain your logic why the hawks will not only win this series but take Orlando to 7. Was it the 38% field goal % or games 3-5 that sealed it for you? Would you like to take my private bet. You say 7 games. I say the hawks won’t win more than 1. Surely you are willing to take a wager like that right since you see 7 games! What say you delusional hawks fan?