THE FACTS: Wednesday's game in Atlanta had playoff implications, and Al Horford played like it. The Hawks' center had 26 points and 15 rebounds as Atlanta beat the visiting Bucks 98-90.
The Bucks shot 25-for-77 (32.5 percent) over the first three quarters, and were just 15-for-45 in the paint in that time for 30 points. They were getting good looks, but converting at an alarmingly poor rate. Even with that, the Hawks were just peppy enough to thwart a rally led by Brandon Jennings. Hawks point guard Jeff Teague scored 27 points and added 11 assists, but Jennings scored eight of his 21 points in the final period, when the Bucks nearly caught up with a 31-point fourth quarter.
Josh Smith added 12 points and a season-high 16 rebounds to join Horford and Teague in double-double territory as Atlanta (38-30) is alone in fifth place in the East, two games behind No. 4 Brooklyn. The Bucks (34-33) who are well ahead of the 76ers (26-40) for the No. 8 playoff spot in the East, lost ground to Chicago (36-30) and Boston (36-31).
QUOTABLE: "Milwaukee played last night and that's something we tried to harp on -- we just had to continue to run and get up the floor, stay aggressive. . . . I told the guys it won't be easy from here on in."
-- Hawks coach Larry Drew
THE STAT: .84 to .97. Here's a deep metric: The Bucks outscored the Hawks 46-36 in the paint, but Milwaukee was much less efficient with its close-range shots while taking several more. The Bucks were 23-for-55 (.84 point per shot) in the paint, where the Hawks were 18-for-37 (.97).
The Bucks had far more chances than the Hawks while taking 20 more shots (37-for-99), but the visitors made one less shot than the Hawks (38-for-79).
TURNING POINT: The Hawks led 48-43 at halftime, and pulled away late in the third quarter to build a lead that was too much for the Bucks. In Atlanta's 11-1 run to finish the period, Milwaukee missed its last eight shots -- two from point-blank -- and the Bucks had half of their modest 10 turnovers in the last 4:42 of the quarter. Atlanta led 77-59.
HOT: Bucks forward Larry Sanders had seven points and 10 of his 14 rebounds in the first quarter. Sanders has had 10 or more rebounds in six straight games, the longest streak of his career. He also scored 19 points and blocked four shots. . . . Smith grabbed nine of his 16 rebounds in the same period, which ended with the score 18-18. . . . . Korver shot 3-for-8 on 3-pointers and has made at least two in five straight games. He's 13-for-26 from distance in that span. He's made at least one trey in 61 consecutive games.
NOT: With four turnovers Wednesday, Jennings has 10 in his past two games.
QUOTABLE II: "We couldn't quite get over the hump. It was too late to put the pressure on. The game was kind of over."
ROOKIE REPORT: Atlanta guard John Jenkins made both of his shots, and over the past five games has shot 15-for-23 (65.2 percent).
IN THE ARENA: Milwaukee native Colin Kaepernick returned to the city of his greatest professional conquest. The 49ers' quarterback was in the house to cheer his hometown team not more than half a mile from where he led San Francisco to a come-from-behind win over the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game about seven weeks earlier.
NOTABLE: Milwaukee forward Ersan Ilyasova missed his second straight game with left him pain, and did not travel to Atlanta.
UP NEXT: For the Bucks, Friday @ Indiana, Sunday vs. Atlanta, Wednesday @ Philadelphia. For the Hawks, Friday vs. Portland, Sunday @ Milwaukee, Monday @ Indiana.