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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

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In Sports

Kurt Thomas (left) provided a steadying influence for the Bucks Monday night against Atlanta.

Veteran Thomas helps Bucks draw even with Hawks


The Atlanta Hawks found themselves on a collision course Monday in Milwaukee.

Twice.

As they were leaving the Bradley Center following a morning shootaround practice, a white Cadillac struck the team bus, causing what a team official described as "quite a jolt" and leaving both vehicles with significant damage.

No one was injured in that crash. The collision seven hours later, though, left the visitors with nicked pride and slightly bruised egos. The Hawks crashed head-first into a confident Bucks team, a frenzied sellout crowd and a wily veteran center named Kurt Thomas.

Milwaukee defeated Atlanta, 111-104, to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece. Game 5 is slated for 7 p.m. Wednesday in Atlanta. Game 6 will be at 6 p.m. Friday at the Bradley Center.

"We had a good night," said Thomas, whose primary value for much of the season was his veteran leadership and play in practice. "We were really sharing the ball with each other. We're spacing the ball well. We're playing good solid defense.

"We're just attacking them. They are an athletic team with a lot of size, but we're not just settling for outside shots. We're attacking."

In their first two losses in Atlanta, the Bucks looked tentative.

"We gave them a lot of easy layups and dunks," said Thomas, who played 31 minutes, scored nine points, grabbed nine rebounds, drew several key fouls and generally frustrated the Hawks at every turn.

"We knew we had to stop that. Even though we were down, 0-2, (in the series), we left Atlanta with a lot of confidence."

Rookie point guard Brandon Jennings, playing with the confidence of a veteran, scored 23 points to lead the Bucks. After struggling with his outside shot, Bucks forward Carlos Delfino found the range by hitting 6 of 8 three-pointers in the game to finish with 22 points, a figure matched by John Salmons.

Those players have formed the core of Milwaukee's offensive attack for much of the season, particularly since center Andrew Bogut was injured at the end of the regular season.

The contributions from Thomas and his backup, Dan Gadzuric, were less expected. Gadzuric played 16 minutes, make all three shots he attempted, grabbed five rebounds and was a factor on defense.

"Danny has been awesome," Thomas said. "He's rebounding, running the floor, blocking shots ... he's doing everything we could ask for."

"I love playing and getting the opportunities, and I'm just trying to make the most of it," Gadzuric said. "Everybody is pushing each other and supporting each other and that's the best feeling. We have a great team, so we just have to keep going."

Gadzuric smiled at the suggestion that Thomas could market an instructional video showing his "old man moves," such as drawing a foul on Mike Bibby on a high screen.

"Kurt is a veteran," Gadzuric said. "He's helped me so much."

Asked about the play with Bibby, Thomas smiled and said: "He kind of caught me off-balance. I was just trying to hold my ground, but I guess he's been in the weight room a little bit. He tried to lower his shoulder or forearm or whatever. It was pretty physical out there."

It was physical, but the Bucks held their own despite giving up some size and athleticism. The rebounds were event, but the Bucks won the turnover battle (15-10) and outscored the Hawks in the paint, 44-26.

The loss left Atlanta searching for answers. "Coming up here, we thought if we can end it here, great, but at least get one," Atlanta guard Jamal Crawford said. "We didn't do our job. they did what they needed to do as far as protecting home court."

That's what the Hawks will need to do Wednesday at home, where they've been a more formidable team all season.

"I wish I could figure it out," Crawford said. "We're two totally different teams. We play well at home and feed off the crowd. But, we can't play every game at home. We have to figure this out. That's what winners do. That's what champions do."


Talkbacks

TosaJim | April 27, 2010 at 10:38 a.m. (report)

jk1522...ok..you're right...this time. :)

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DT | April 27, 2010 at 10:11 a.m. (report)

One of the best atmospheres in Wisconsin sports in the past 5 years. BC was rocking and the Bucks truly played as a team. ATL has tanked on the road the past 2-3 seasons, but now for the Bucks to take the next step they have to find a way to win on the road. Games 1 and 5 are the big ones -- ATL took Game 1 now it's up to the Bucks to take Game 5. Should be fun!

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TheyThink | April 27, 2010 at 9:26 a.m. (report)

Winning on the road in the NBA is NEVER easy...just the same as almost any other professional sport. Trust me, the NBA would like nothing better than for the Bucks to lose 4-0. Evidently the Bucks didn't get David Stern's memo. As Indians manager Lou Brown famously said: "So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give 'em all a nice big sh*tburger to eat!"

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jk1522 | April 27, 2010 at 9:21 a.m. (report)

TosaJim-That is one of the dumbest posts I have ever read. Before doing so, if you would have checked...well lets see.. how bout some stats...you would have come across the FACT that Atlanta was 1-9 on the road in their last 10 playoff games! Next, as good as Atlanta was this year, I believe they were under .500 for the year away from Home, where STATISTICALLY they play much better. So, TosaJIM, that is how!!

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TosaJim | April 27, 2010 at 8:46 a.m. (report)

Does anyone (besides me) think this is just a joke?.....how can you play so bad in Atlanta and win convincingly at home? I think they're just milking it to get more games and bring in more money.

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