MILWAUKEE -- In a hotly contested game between two playoff contenders, the Atlanta Hawks came out on top Saturday night with a 103-102 victory.
Al Horford scored the winning points for the Hawks with 5.9 seconds left when he bulled past Larry Sanders. Horford finished with 23 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds.
"That play was to go to Al," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "We executed it well enough to where we got him into a good position where he could score. He came up with the big play. Really powered his way to the basket and came up with the big shot."
Milwaukee's Monta Ellis rushed down the floor after the inbounds pass and attempted a fadeaway jumper that hit the back of the rim as time expired.
"Even though Monta had a good look at the end, it shouldn't have come down to that," Bucks guard Brandon Jennings said.
The Bucks had the ball trailing 101-100 with 15.2 seconds left and went to Ellis, who finished with 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field and 10 assists. He drove the right side of the lane and made a layup to make it 102-101 with 10.8 seconds left.
Milwaukee had opened an 89-79 lead with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter, the game's largest spread, and appeared primed to hold on until a 22-11 Atlanta run created a 101-100 lead with 1:28 left after a Horford dunk.
"I don't think we should have been in a position to be in a one-possession game," Bucks guard J.J. Redick said. "We kind of separated ourselves there towards the end of the third, early fourth.
"I believe it was 100-93 when they called a timeout. And we gave up eight in a row. That to me was the game. You can't rely on winning one-possession games. You have to clamp down when you're up seven with three or four minutes to go."
With Jennings (11 points on 4-of-11 shooting from the field) limited offensively, the Bucks relied on Ersan Ilyasova, who had 19 points, and Redick, who made his Milwaukee debut with 16 points in 35 minutes, for offense. Sanders added 12 points and 19 rebounds.
"J.J. is a prolific shooter. With him on the floor, you know you have to be with him at all times," Drew said of Redick. "Defensively, you have to make some adjustments when he's in the game because he is such a deadly shooter."
Milwaukee held a 58-41 rebounding advantage but couldn't overcome its 4-of-12 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc combined with Atlanta hitting 50 percent of its 3-point attempts (14 of 28).
"We shot the ball well from the 3," Drew said. "I believe at halftime we were 9 for 16. Sometimes that can be fool's gold. What I didn't want to do was get seduced into taking just 3-point shots. Within our offense, if the shot is there, we'll seek it. But we don't want to come down just looking for it."
Atlanta led 54-53 at halftime. Atlanta's Jeff Teague led all scorers with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. He scored five of Atlanta's first 11 points.
Tempers flared a few times in the game's opening half with three technical fouls called.
With 36.1 seconds left in the first quarter, Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia fouled John Henson underneath. While raising his hand to acknowledge his foul, he bumped Milwaukee's Samuel Dalembert, who didn't take kindly to it. Dalembert shoved Pachulia and both players were assessed technical fouls.
Jennings was called for the game's first technical with 6:24 left in the first quarter after a dispute with an official. Coinciding with the technical, Redick replaced Jennings to a round of applause to make his Milwaukee debut.
Atlanta's Josh Smith, who was part of numerous trade rumors before Thursday's deadline, missed his first four shots of the game and was 1 of 5 for two points in the first quarter. He finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
NOTES: Of Redick's 51 games this season, 40 have started on the bench. In games starting on the bench, Redick has posted double-digit points in 31 of them (one of 12 reserve players with at least 30 games scoring 10-plus points off the bench entering Saturday's game). He has scored 20-plus points off the bench 10 times, the fourth most in the NBA this season entering Saturday. ... Entering Saturday's game, two Bucks ranked in the top 15 in the NBA for points per game in the second half. Jennings was tied for 11th with Jrue Holiday (9.7 ppg) and Ellis ranked 15th (9.4 ppg). Jennings had six points and Ellis had four in the second half. ... In the last five games, Horford has averaged 24.2 points and 10.0 rebounds while shooting 67.9 percent from the field (55 of 81). He has scored over 20 points and made at least 10 field goals in each of those games. It's the first time in his career he has scored 20-plus points in five straight games.