The Atlanta Hawks rattled off five consecutive impressive wins to silence many of their doubters. Their blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, however, may again bring those critics back to the forefront.
Atlanta gets an immediate shot at redemption Saturday night when it visits Milwaukee in the completion of this home-and-home set.
The Hawks (21-8) faltered in every facet Friday as their eight-game home winning streak ended with a 107-77 loss to the Bucks. They converted under 41 percent of their field goals for just the fourth time this season, and shot 17.4 percent (4 for 23) from 3-point range.
Atlanta wasn't any better on the defensive end, failing to stop an otherwise-mediocre Milwaukee offense, which entered averaging 99.6 points. The Hawks had allowed only four teams to shoot better than 50 percent against them this season prior to letting the Bucks connect on 50.6 percent.
"We've got to do things better defensively to make it harder for them on offense," coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We obviously didn't have a good night offensively. Overall, there's a lot of areas where we can improve, get better. We get to see the same team tomorrow night, see if we can correct and play better."
The loss follows home wins against Chicago and the Los Angeles Clippers and road victories over Cleveland, Houston and Dallas.
"Flat. Just one of those games," said DeMarre Carroll, who finished with zero points in more than 20 minutes after scoring a career-high 25 in his previous game against the Clippers. "Coming off the holidays, we just got to flush it and get ready for tomorrow."
Kyle Korver had an especially poor performance Friday. He made one of eight from the field for his worst percentage (12.5 percent) in games with at least five attempts this season.
The Bucks (15-15) avoided a third straight loss and matched last season's win total with another effective shooting display.
Milwaukee shot over 50 percent for the eighth time this season and leads the NBA with a 49.9 percentage in December. Jared Dudley scored 24 points on 10 of 10 from the field, while Zaza Pachulia added 14 and eight rebounds against his former team to help pick up the slack with Larry Sanders (illness) and Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) sidelined.
Dudley also had four of the Bucks' 15 steals.
"I can't say it was a perfect game because as a coach you always want more, but it was as close to a no-hitter as you can come to," coach Jason Kidd said of Dudley. "I thought he was great tonight on both ends."
Wins against the Hawks have been hard to come by for the Bucks, who had lost seven straight and 10 of 11 in the series before Friday. They have dropped four straight at home to Atlanta, including a 111-103 defeat April 16 in the most recent matchup at the Bradley Center.
The Hawks have not lost consecutive games since Nov. 15 and 18.