Injuries haven't kept the Atlanta Hawks from winning lately, and returning home to face their next opponent might help that success continue.The Hawks look to win their third in a row after a poor stretch to open the new year and seek a fifth consecutive home win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
After winning 11 of 15 last month and closing December on a six-game win streak, Atlanta (25-16) cooled off by losing six of its first eight games in January. However, the Hawks have bounced back to beat Toronto on Monday and Chicago on Tuesday despite playing without starters Al Horford and Marvin Williams.
Horford has been sidelined for six games with a bone bruise in his right knee, while Williams has missed the last two due to a concussion suffered in a loss to Golden State last Friday. Both are considered day-to-day, as is second-year reserve Acie Law, who was held out of the latest game with a bruised quadriceps.
But those absences didn't hurt the Hawks in a 105-102 victory at Chicago on Tuesday night. Mike Bibby had a season-high 31 points, while Zaza Pachulia - starting the last six games in place of Horford - had his best offensive effort of 2008-09 with 18 points.
"I don't know if we're as deep as a lot of teams, but we feel good about the players that we've surrounded ourselves with," coach Mike Woodson told the Hawks' official Web site. "We expect them to play with positive minutes and do whatever is necessary to help us win games."
Bibby, the Hawks' second-leading scorer with 16.6 points per game, is averaging 20.5 over his previous six contests. He's averaged 19.2 points in 17 career matchups versus the Bucks, totaling 34 in two contests against them since joining the Hawks last February.
Against Chicago, Josh Smith recorded his second straight double-double (17 points, 14 rebounds) to give him averages of 19.2 points and 9.2 rebounds over his last six games.
A sprained ankle forced Smith to miss the Hawks' only meeting with the Bucks (21-24) this season, a 102-96 home win on Nov. 26. It was Milwaukee's fourth straight loss in Atlanta, getting outscored by an average of 13.5 points during that skid.
While the Hawks have won seven of nine at home overall, the Bucks have dropped five of seven on the road.
Though Milwaukee is coming off a victory, it hasn't won back-to-back games since mid-December and appears likely to be missing one of its top players.
Coach Scott Skiles hinted on Wednesday that center Andrew Bogut might not play until Monday against Minnesota due to back troubles. Bogut, who is averaging 11.8 points and a team-high 10.4 rebounds, has missed four straight games.
Milwaukee avoided a third straight defeat overall with a strong performance on its home court on Wednesday night in a 133-99 rout of Dallas.
Charlie Villanueva had a season-high 32 points and 10 rebounds, Michael Redd scored 27 and Ramon Sessions added 21 for the Bucks, who turned in season highs in points, 3-pointers (13) and field-goal percentage (57.8).
Milwaukee committed only nine turnovers and held an opponent below 100 points for just the second time in nine games.
"It was one of those nights when the basket opened up for us, and we were able to knock them down," Skiles said. "We can't really complain about our defensive effort."