Bucks tip Hawks to tie series, 2-2
MILWAUKEE — Powered by Carlos Delfino's hot shooting, Brandon Jennings' creativity and an unexpected windfall of chances at the free-throw line, the undermanned Milwaukee Bucks are beginning to make the Atlanta Hawks sweat.
The Bucks pulled off their second straight playoff surprise, beating the Hawks, 111-104, in Game 4 last night to pull even in the first round of the playoffs.
Suddenly, it's a series.
"I still feel like there's no pressure on us," Jennings said. "At the end of the day, everybody still expects us to lose the series. The best thing we can do right now is just keep fighting, keep competing with them and just see how everything goes. Hopefully we can go over there and steal one."
Delfino scored 22 points with six 3-pointers, Jennings scored 23 with six assists and John Salmons added 22 points for the Bucks, who finally started getting free throws and made the most of them. Milwaukee was 28 of 32 from the line after attempting 17 free throws or fewer in each of the first three games of the series.
Free-throw shooting helped the Bucks survive a fourth-quarter surge led by Atlanta stars Joe Johnson and Josh Smith that cut the deficit to five with 1:41 left. Johnson scored 29 points, reserve Jamal Crawford had 21, and Smith had 20 points and nine rebounds.
Now the Hawks head home for Game 5, desperately needing a win to stave off a surprising challenge by a team missing its best player, injured center Andrew Bogut.
"It's very frustrating, man," Johnson said. "We just don't have the toughness. They are getting all the loose balls, all the big rebounds. We can't get stops when we need to and it's killing us."
It was yet another subpar performance away from home for the Hawks, who struggled on the road in the regular season and haven't performed well on the road in recent playoff appearances.
"Somehow we've got to get our defensive mojo back where we're defending and rebounding and running up and down the floor," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "And come Wednesday we'll get that opportunity."
The Hawks came to Milwaukee with two wins in hand and the series under control, looking to dismiss the Bucks and move on to the next round.
But Yesterday, the Hawks' day got off to an odd start, when a car collided with their team bus on their way back to their hotel after a pregame shootaround. Everybody was OK, but the day went even further downhill once the Hawks got back to the Bradley Center.
"The good thing is we've got home-court advantage," Johnson said. "We have to go home and take care of our home court. Just start with Game 5 first."