After a nerve-wracking victory against Philadelphia just days ago, the Milwaukee Bucks faced an unexpected slump in their game against the Atlanta Hawks, losing 127-110 at the Fiserv Forum on Sunday.
The Hawks, marking their first win of the season (1-2), wasted no time, securing a 15-point advantage during the first quarter. While the Bucks made a brief attempt at a comeback, drawing close at 33-32 in the subsequent quarter following a three-pointer by Malik Beasley, the Hawks surged ahead with a defining 15-1 run. This move effectively kept the Bucks at bay for the remainder of the game.
Lillard’s uncharacteristic dip
Star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, despite being sidelined during the fourth quarter, managed to lead the Bucks with an impressive 26 points from 9 out of 14 attempts, complemented by 11 rebounds. Meanwhile, Beasley followed closely, contributing 18 points. Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis, with 13 and 12 points respectively, ensured the Bucks had multiple players scoring in double digits.
But Sunday wasn’t kind to everyone. Damian Lillard, who had recently made a remarkable 39-point debut with the Bucks, found himself struggling throughout the game. With a mere 6 points from 12 attempts, Lillard’s performance was a shadow of his usual self. Such lows have been rare for Lillard, with this being only the 16th time in his career where he’s scored under 10 points.
As the Bucks tried to adjust, the Hawks’ strategy to limit Lillard played a pivotal role. The team managed to maintain a dominant lead, enjoying a comfortable 21-point gap by halftime.
Murray steals the show
Yet, it wasn’t just about keeping Lillard in check. While much focus was on the Hawks’ Trae Young, it was their other star guard, Murray, who truly made waves. Known for leading the NBA in steals during the 2021-22 season, Murray showcased his defensive prowess, outplaying both Lillard and Antetokounmpo. Scoring 13 points during the game, Murray’s agile moves, especially a two-minute six-point burst, dampened the spirits of the home fans.
This game underlined the Hawks‘ team cohesion and balance, with seven out of their eight main players scoring in double figures by the third quarter. They boasted a shooting accuracy of over 50% and 40% from the field and beyond the arc, respectively. By the end, with Murray at 15 points and Young topping with 20 points and 11 assists, the Hawks proudly marked their stamp on Milwaukee.