ATLANTA (AP) - After eking out a pair of wins earlier in the week, the Atlanta Hawks got a chance to enjoy themselves in this one.Flip Murray scored a season-high 25 points, Josh Smith had 24 and the Hawks raced to their biggest victory of the season, 117-87 over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
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Mike Bibby dished out 15 assists for Atlanta, which shot 56 percent from the field while winning its third in a row.
The 30-point margin easily eclipsed a pair of 18-point wins and didn't require nearly as much effort as their two previous victories, each by three points over Toronto and Chicago.
"We finished our work early tonight," Bibby said.
The Bucks went more than 7 minutes without a field goal over a span covering the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second. The Hawks built a 17-point lead and were up 58-47 at halftime.
Milwaukee closed to 60-55 on back-to-back 3s by Luke Ridnour and Charlie Villanueva early in the third, but the rally didn't last. Atlanta ripped off a 12-2 run, sparked by Smith's fast-break dunk off a feed from Bibby, then a putback slam by the acrobatic Smith. The Hawks stretched it out to 86-67 by the end of the third, and Milwaukee was done.
"They were so worried about Mike Bibby," Smith said. "I was able to sneak my way inside and get some easy baskets."
Bibby had 12 points and easily eclipsed his previous season high of 12 assists, even though he barely played in the final period. The Hawks emptied their bench and still managed to push the margin even higher against the listless Bucks.
"We were not settling for a lot of jump shots," said Joe Johnson, who was able to sit out the entire fourth quarter. "We got to the hole a lot. The pick-and-roll worked to perfection."
Charlie Villanueva led the Bucks with 27 points, but it was a mere afterthought in Milwaukee's most-lopsided defeat of the season.
Bucks center Andrew Bogut missed his fifth straight game with back spasms, and the Hawks sure took advantage of his absence on the inside. Atlanta had numerous dunks and easy baskets, finishing with a 50-20 edge when it came to points in the lane.
"We didn't show up - in any facet of the game," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said.
The Bucks hardly looked like the same team that blew out Dallas by 34 points two nights earlier.
"It's just not acceptable," Villanueva said. "We've shown how good we can play when we want to play. We've shown it. We just have to be a mature team and be more consistent.
Murray led the Atlanta reserves on 11-of-13 shooting, eclipsing his previous best of 21 points and a big improvement on his two previous games, when he combined to hit only 8-of-26 from the field. Maurice Evans added 18 points.
"I needed that," Murray said. "I had to get my swagger back."
Marvin Williams returned to the Atlanta lineup after missing two games with a concussion, chipping in with 11 points and nine rebounds. The Hawks were still without center Al Horford, who missed his seventh straight game with a bone bruise to his right knee and isn't likely to return for another week.
The Bucks couldn't make anything, their woes epitomized by a sequence in the third quarter. They took off down the court with a 3-on-1, with Atlanta's lone defender conceding the hoop. But Richard Jefferson clanked the layup, and Michael Redd missed an easy follow off the rebound.
Not long after, Villanueva decided to try his luck from farther out. He launched a 3-pointer from the top of the key that hit nothing but ... well, nothing, coming up a good foot short of the rim and landing softly out of bounds.
Two games after lighting up Sacramento for 44 points, Redd was held to 16 on 6-of-14 shooting. The Bucks finished 38 percent from the field.
"No more talk of 'We're a good team' and potential," Redd said. "Just play good basketball and be consistent. We've got to bust through the ceiling of inconsistency."
Hawks coach Mike Woodson campaigned for Johnson to make his third straight All-Star Game appearance. "There's no doubt that Joe should be an All-Star," the coach said. "His numbers are as consistent as anybody's: scoring, rebounding, assists, steals. He's done everything for us." ... Bucks assistant Lionel Hollins flew to Atlanta with the team, then left to talk with Memphis officials about an offer to take over as the Grizzlies' head coach. Skiles has already conceded that Hollins will leave, wishing him well in the new job and saying he's thoroughly qualified.