MILWAUKEE — There was almost nothing at stake on Wednesday night when the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-103 in the regular-season finale at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Atlanta was headed to the playoffs, already locked into eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot and a first-round date with top-seeded Indiana.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, was closing the book on a largely forgettable season that came to an end with a franchise-worst 15-67 record.
“I just wanted the guys to come out and play,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. “We were able to do it for three quarters and then it just fell apart at the end.”
The Bucks came out with a burst of energy in large part because of news that developed off-the-court earlier in the day.
Former U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, the team’s owner since 1985, announced Wednesday afternoon that he was selling the franchise to two New York-based hedge fund managers who also put forth money toward building a new facility for the Bucks and, thus, solidifying the franchise’s future in Milwaukee.
“I’d be lying if I said the concentration was there tonight,” Drew said. “This was a big day. Sen. Kohl came in and addressed the team before the game and for some of these guys, this is new for them, so I think there were a lot of things that were a factor — the sale of the team, the last game — and I think all of those things weighed on us today.”
Milwaukee came out firing and shot 75 percent from the field in the first quarter. The Bucks hit 3 of 4 3-point attempts and led by 10 points after one quarter and 63-58 at halftime.
But the Hawks, despite playing without leading scorer Paul Millsap, were just as hot. They shot 60 percent from the field and caught Milwaukee midway through the third, taking a 71-70 lead when center Pero Antic made two free throws with 5:47 left in the quarter.
Down one point to start the fourth, the Hawks went on a 13-2 run to open a 10-point lead on forward Mike Scott’s jumper with 6:54 to play.
“They came out with a fast start,” Scott said. “But we just kept with our defense and they started missing shots. We came out with a win.”
Scott led the Hawks (38-44) with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and was one of six Atlanta players to score in double figures along with forward DeMarre Carroll, who finished with 13, and point guard Jeff Teague, who had 11 points and made two shots from beyond the arc.
Off the bench, center Mike Muscala had 14 points, forward Cartier Martin scored 14 and Shelvin Mack added 11 for the Hawks, who shot 54 percent from the field.
“It was great to see (Muscala) click,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Mike is getting more and more comfortable understanding the system, spacing, where he can find his opportunities and his teammates found him.
“If he starts doing that on both ends, he’s going to be able to help us.”
Milwaukee was led by point guard Brandon Knight, who hit 12 of 18 shots from the field and made 3 of 6 from beyond the arc to finish with a game-high 31 points.
Forward John Henson scored 19 points and forward Khris Middleton added 16 for the Bucks, who shot 51.9 percent from the field but committed 22 turnovers that Atlanta turned into 24 points. Rookie forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 10 points.
“It was a long year for us,” Bucks center Zaza Pachulia said. “It’s good to be over now because you have the whole summer to work on your game, get stronger, get better then come in and have a fresh start.”
The Bucks lost nine of their last 10 games and clinched the worst record in the league. They will have 25 percent of the winning combinations at the NBA Draft Lottery, slated for May 20.
NOTES: Former Sen. Herb Kohl paid $18 million when he bought the Bucks in 1985. He sold the franchise Friday for $550 million to New York hedge fund managers Wes Edens and Marc Lasry. The deal still needs approval of the NBA’s Board of Governors. … F Paul Millsap, the Hawks’ leading scorer at 17.9 points per game, sat out a second straight game in order to rest for the playoffs. … Milwaukee was the only team that failed to win consecutive games this season. … The Hawks swept the series with the Bucks for the second consecutive season.
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