Bucks roll 144-112 in Budenholzer’s 1st game vs Hawks
MILWAUKEE — Mike Budenholzer’s first game against the team he coached for five seasons was no contest.
Budenholzer’s Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 33-point halftime lead and coasted to a 144-112 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night for their fifth straight victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists, and Khris Middleton scored 19 points while hitting all four of his 3-point attempts. Malcolm Brogdon also scored 19 and point guard Eric Bledsoe added 14 points and eight assists.
Milwaukee (27-10) improved its NBA-best record and won for the ninth time in 10 games. The Bucks tied a season high for points in a game, equaling their total points against Sacramento on Nov. 4.
Antetokounmpo and the rest of the Milwaukee starters did not play in the fourth quarter and got some rest before the Bucks’ showdown with Toronto on Saturday night.
The Bucks shot 55 percent from the field and were 14 of 40 from 3-point range.
Budenholzer led the Hawks to the playoffs in four of his five seasons with the team and his 2014-15 squad won 60 games and reached the Eastern Conference finals.
The rebuilding Hawks (11-27) were no match for the Bucks, who led by as many as 38 points in the first half and held a 43-14 lead after the first quarter. Milwaukee took a 76-43 halftime lead.
Milwaukee extended the lead to 46 points in the fourth quarter.
DeAndre Bembry led Atlanta with 19 points and Dewayne Dedmon had 14 while hitting 4 of 9 3-pointers.
Hawks: Atlanta has two rookies making major contributions: fifth overall pick Trae Young, acquired in a draft-night deal with Dallas; and 19th overall pick Kevin Huerter. Young, the former Oklahoma star and 6-foot-2 guard, entered Friday averaging 15.4 points and 7.4 assists. He had only two points in the first three quarters but finished with 13 points in 31 minutes. Huerter, who played at Maryland, scored a personal-best 22 points at Indiana on Dec. 31 and had 12 points in 44 minutes against Washington on Wednesday. “We played him 40 minutes in Indiana and he gets a career high,” Pierce said. “It was kind of a lesson to me. Play him more. Get him more shots and his shot attempts have gone up in every month, so we’re finding more productivity with more opportunity. So, it’s my job to get him more opportunity.” Huerter scored 10 points Friday. … Former Bucks forward Miles Plumlee (left knee pain) was unavailable for the Hawks after being ruled out following the team’s morning shootaround.
Bucks: Veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova returned to the lineup for the first time since breaking his nose in practice on Dec. 16. Second-year forward D.J. Wilson has played well in Ilyasova’s absence, and Budenholzer said he wasn’t sure how he would distribute playing time. “It’s the hard part about our league,” Budenholzer said. “When you have a roster with a lot of depth and a lot of good players, sometimes you have to make hard decisions. Sometimes you play a little bigger rotation. But we’ve certainly been happy with D.J., happy with Thon (Maker). Ersan is a veteran guy and we’re happy to have him back. This league is amazing how opportunity is always right around the corner if someone isn’t playing.” Ilyasova drew a charge — his specialty — just 13 seconds after entering the game in the first quarter. He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Hawks: Host Miami on Sunday.
Bucks: Host Toronto on Saturday.