Bucks ground Hawks to trail series, 2-1 Thunder tie series with Lakers
By COLIN FLY
MILWAUKEE — John Salmons let out a huge sigh at his locker before a wide grin crept across his face. The questions of whether the Milwaukee Bucks can hang with the Atlanta Hawks are over.
Salmons scored 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting, Kurt Thomas had eight points, 13 rebounds and four stitches, and the Bucks never let up after racing to a 36-19 first-quarter lead in a 107-89 Game 3 victory last night after a three-day layoff.
"It's just good to finally play. That was a tough three days thinking about what you have to do, what you should do," said Salmons, who was acquired in a trade deadline deal that's helped spark Milwaukee's postseason run. "It's good to get the game going."
The series is now on, too.
Atlanta still leads 2-1 after two double-digit victories at home, when the Bucks looked overmatched without the injured Andrew Bogut.
"We came out with a lot of energy. We knew that would be the only way we'd be able to win," Salmons said. "We've got to play as close to perfect as possible and we did a good job of that."
The Bucks shot 68 percent in the first quarter and 51 percent for the game. Milwaukee's stingy defense returned, too, holding the Hawks to 32 percent shooting through three quarters to turn the fourth into trash time.
"It was nice to see the guys show up again," Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. "This is the team that I'm used to coaching and seeing, with a lot of intensity.
Thomas, a 15-year veteran, went in for stitches early in the second quarter after taking an inadvertent shot to the chin and missed 4 1/2 minutes of game action.