The NBA’s sixth man of the year, Jamal Crawford, knew his shooting slump would not last forever. Crawford, who connected on just 4-of-18 shots in Game 5, came alive on Friday night and scored 24 points to lead his Atlanta Hawks past the Milwaukee Bucks 83-69 in Game 6.
“I felt like I was letting everybody down the first few games, especially the last game,” Crawford said. “I haven’t slept much the last couple of days. Usually in that situation the next game can’t come fast enough.”
The win keeps the Hawks alive in the 2010 NBA playoffs and forces a Game 7 on Sunday in Atlanta. Atlanta head coach Mike Woodson had a simple solution to Crawford’s shooting woes.
Simply put, just keep shooting.
“There’s going to be nights where he just doesn’t put it in the hole,” Woodson said. “But tonight, he was there when we needed him.”
The Bucks did not get much help from John Salmons and Brandon Jennings in the loss on Friday night who had been a huge scoring threat so far in the playoffs. After combining for 41.3 points and 9.7 assists in Games 3 through 5, all Milwaukee wins, they combined for just 20 points, hitting just 6 of 25 shots on Friday. Jennings was also just 1-for-9 from 3-point range. Bucks head coach Scott Skiles knows his team can perform better and must find a way to get a win on the road Sunday.
“It’s the first time we’ve been in this type of game and we didn’t react nearly as well as we would’ve liked to have reacted, that’s for sure,” Skiles said. “Now we’ve got to find a way to go down there and get another one.”
After coming out of halftime with a 34-31 lead, the Bucks fell apart in the third quarter and were outscored 29-11 after hitting only 3 of 17 shots. They made a comeback attempt midway through the final quarter and cut the Hawks lead to 7 with 5:14 remaining. But Atlanta scored two straights buckets by Joe Johnson and Crawford that put the Hawks back up by 11 and Milwaukee couldn’t respond.
“It’s Game 7 now,” Jennings said. “We worked so hard for this. We’ve got to go in there and know that we can win. We didn’t prepare all year just to get to the playoffs and then just say forget it.”
After taking a 2-0 lead in the series, Atlanta surrendered three straight games to the Bucks before keeping their hopes alive with their win on Friday. According to NBA sportsbooks, the Hawks have their odds at 50/1 to win the 2010 NBA Championship. The Bucks have their odds set at 150/1.