It turned out to be a big night for two teams headed in different directions with the regular season coming to a close.
Mike Muscala added 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting for the Hawks, who rallied from a 12-point deficit in the first half.
“I think the defense after the first quarter really picked up. It was where we want it to be and need it to be,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Atlanta is locked into the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and a first-round date with the Indiana Pacers. Scott started for forward Paul Millsap, who was rested to get ready for the postseason.
“We feel like we are playing about as well as we have played all year for the most part. So the regular season is done, we will take a couple days and get ready for Indiana,” forward Kyle Korver said.
Brandon Knight scored 31 points to lead the Bucks, who finished an NBA-worst 15-67. Their dismal season is over, though there is more certainty about the team’s future after the prospective new owners said they wanted to build a new arena in Milwaukee.
“I would like to think that the concentration was there, but I think I would be lying if I said it was,” he said. “This was a big day with all that has happened.”
The NBA is expected to approve the estimated $550 million sale to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens, who also committed $100 million toward a new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Kohl, a former U.S. senator, also promised to fork over $100 million for a new facility.
Wearing a dark green suit to match the Bucks‘ dominant team color, Kohl received a standing ovation and watched about four rows from the floor at center court as his team went out and scored 39 points in the first quarter, a season-high for the opening period.
But Atlanta took control in the second half, even if the team didn’t have much at stake. The top goal was to stay sharp but injury-free, and Budenholzer limited the minutes for key players Korver, DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague on top of having Millsap sit out.
The contest had the up-and-down feel of a playground pickup game at times, especially during a first half in which the Bucks shot 63 percent to the Hawks‘ 60. Atlanta trailed by as much as 12 in the first half before going up by double digits in the fourth quarter.
“We just wanted to end the season playing good basketball,” Korver said.