Bucks Ground Hawks

John Baker, of Kotzebue, Alaska pulls into the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race checkpoint at Nikolai, Alaska, Tuesday, March 7, 2006. Four-time Iditarod champion Doug Swingley was the first musher to reach the checkpoint on the Kuskokwim River followed by three-time champion Jeff King.
AP Photo/Al Grillo

The Milwaukee Bucks wanted to prove right from the start they're one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

So far, so good.

Ray Allen scored 31 points, Sam Cassell added 24 and the Milwaukee Bucks spoiled the Atlanta Hawks' first NBA game at Philips Arena, 119-109 Thursday night.

The Bucks have won their first two games on the road, beating Houston 98-93 in the opener Tuesday night.

"When we get on the court, we run on all four cylinders," Allen said. "We're definitely off to a great start. Eighty games left. It's important that we keep focused. We can't get too happy. We have to create a mystique about our team and let them know we're for real."

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Game Summary

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  • The new-look Hawks look real confused. With a roster than includes seven new players, Atlanta threw the ball all over the court and wound up 26 turnovers, leading to 35 points for Milwaukee.

    "Turnovers have been the nemesis for us," said coach Lenny Wilkens, whose team gave up the ball 23 times in a 94-87 loss at Washington in the opener. "We have stretches where we play real well, and then there are stretches where we just don't take care of the ball."

    Isaiah Rider, who missed Atlanta's opener while attending his grandfather's funeral, scored 19 points in his debut with the Hawks. But he went only 7-for-22 from the field and committed six turnovers.

    "I was a little rusty," said Rider, who was fined when he also skipped Wednesday's practice without permission. "I have to be aggressive. Tonight, it seemed like no one was aggressive. It seemed like everyone was flat, very tentative, very flat-lined. We can't have that."

    The first bsketball game at the $213 million arena drew 18,154, about 2,000 short of capacity. The building has been open for more than a month to accommodate Atlanta's new NHL team, the Thrashers.

    The score was tight for nearly three quarters, with the Hawks pulling into a 76-76 tie on Dikembe Mutombo's three-point play. But the Bucks outscored Atlanta 10-4 over the final three minutes of the period and blew it open when the Hawks put only one starter on the court to begin the fourth.

    Working against a lineup that included two rookies, Jason Terry and Cal Bowdler, Milwaukee pushed its lead to 101-87 in the first four minutes of the period. The Hawks got no closer than nine points the rest of the way to remain winless.

    "It was a loosely played game in the first half," Bucks coach George Karl said. "I think we tightened it down more than they did in the second half."

    Allen was 10-for-23 from the field, hitting three times from beyond the 3-point arc. Tim Thomas added 17 points and Glenn Robinson 16.

    Atlanta, the NBA's toughest defensive team a year ago, overhauled its roster in an attempt to shift to an up-tempo style of play. The Bucks took advantage, scoring more points than the Hawks allowed in any game last season.

    The Bucks had 15 steals, committed only 12 turnovers and went 33-for-36 at the foul line.

    "We can't use the newness as an excuse," Atlanta's Roshown McLeod said. "We have to use our talent, put it together and start winning some games."

    Jim Jackson also had 19 points, equaling Rider for high scorer on the Hawks, and four other players scored in double figures.

    Rider added to his troubled resume before playing his first game in a Hawks uniform. He missed the opening day of training camp, then got into trouble again when he failed to show up for Wednesday's practice. He insisted it was all part of the grieving process.

    The fans didn't seem to mind Rider's transgressions. He received one of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions drowning out a smattering of boos and was cheered every time he entered the game off the bench.

    Notes

  • The Hawks list official capacity at Philips Arena as 20,007, but team officials are still trying to determine the exact number of seats in the basketball configuration.
  • The Hawks unveiled a banner honoring Bob Pettit and Lou Hudson, the only two players in franchise history to hve their numbers retired.
  • The five Milwaukee starters were 22-for-24 at the foul line.
  • The Bucks make their home debut on Saturday against Detroit.

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