Bucks blow 17-point lead before rallying for victory

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- When the Milwaukee Bucks are desperate for a win, they can look to Atlanta for help.

Milwaukee snapped its longest home losing streak in six years at five after Bobby Simmons scored 18 points and Michael Redd added 16 in Monday night's 88-87 victory over the Hawks.

The last time the teams met, Feb. 26, Milwaukee ended a seven-game road skid with a 99-89 win.

This one wasn't nearly as easy.

Milwaukee blew a 17-point lead in the second half before coming from behind in the final 1:26.

"When we beat them in Atlanta last time it was a game we desperately needed," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "This feels better than being down 20 and losing a game. It's been hard here the last five games."

The Bucks had won six in a row at home after a victory Valentine's Day against Seattle, but since went sour -- losing eight of the last 12 overall and five straight at home to fall below .500 in the Eastern Conference.

It nearly continued even after a 3-pointer by Simmons gave Milwaukee a 75-58 edge with 2:15 left in the third.

Atlanta chipped away in the fourth quarter, and Josh Smith, who finished with a career-high 25 points, hit a jumper to cut the Bucks' lead to 84-83. The Hawks took their first lead on their next possession when Smith hit a jumper from the same spot.

"It doesn't matter how many points you get up or get down, it's just never over," said Joe Smith, who had the Bucks' final four points starting with a jumper off an inbounds pass to make it 86-85 with 1:26 left.

Josh Smith missed a 3 and fouled out on the ensuing possession, and Joe Smith hit two more free throws to make it 88-85.

"I thought I had a good block when they called the foul," Josh Smith said. "I wanted to be in the game at the last minute."

Atlanta's Al Harrington hit two free throws of his own with 31 seconds left to make it 88-87, and the Hawks had a chance to win after Redd missed a jumper with 10 seconds remaining.

Atlanta rushed down the court instead of calling a timeout, but Harrington's open 24-footer at the buzzer was short.

"Believe it or not, when it left my hand, it felt good," Harrington said.

Coach Mike Woodson didn't second-guess his decision not to call a timeout and let Joe Johnson push the ball up the court.

"We had eight seconds when we were coming down and I had the ball in my best player's hands," Woodson said. "He made a great decision to throw it to Al Harrington, who had a wide-open shot, and he just happened to miss it."

The loss gave the Hawks a 20-41 mark and assured their seventh straight season without a winning record after having seven straight winning campaigns in the 1990s.

"We're so close," Harrington said. "If we didn't have such a bad start, we'd be in the thick of things. We're still playing for a lot of pride."

The Hawks didn't need to look further than their top two scorers, Johnson and Harrington, for reasons why they lost. Harrington went scoreless in the first half after foul trouble and finished with just seven points, while Johnson had a career-high 17 assists, but was just 3-of-13 from the field for nine points.

That left Atlanta to turn to Smith and Salim Stoudamire, who finished with 21 points.

After the public address announcer failed to pronounce Stoudamire's name correctly when he entered the game, he got blindsided by a pick that left him floored.

So the rookie got up and reeled off 10 of the Hawks' next 12 points. Atlanta went on a 10-0 run to get close, finally tying the game 42-42 after Smith scored seven straight. But Redd scored the final four points to end the half and Milwaukee began building its lead in the third period.

Game notes
Hawks G Josh Childress missed his fourth straight game
with a sprained left ankle. ... Bucks G Mo Williams played in his
first game since missing three games with a stomach virus. He
finished with nine points in 27 minutes. ... The Bucks lost seven
in a row at home in February 2000.