AJ Griffin breaks out as Hawks hand Bucks first loss of the season

Onyeka Okongwu

Without Trae Young, the Hawks still prevailed against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks to hand Milwaukee their first loss of the season. Atlanta relied on Dejounte Murray, who was two rebounds away from recording a triple-double in back-to-back games. The All-Star point guard was his usual pesky self on defense, initiated the offense, and made his buckets — 25 points on 11-of-24 shooting from the field, 8 rebounds, 11 assists, and 3 steals. It was the third game of the season Murray had 20+ points, 10+ assists, and 3+ steals — the most such games in the NBA this seasonOnyeka Okongwu also looked impressive in limited action, putting a pair of missed threes back over Giannis.

But the story of the night was AJ Griffin. The rookie out of Duke had the best game of his short career, posting 24 points on an efficient 10-of-15 shooting. He did it at all levels too. Griffin knocked down two 3s, made several midrange jumpers, and even had a few impressive finishes at the rim. He also added three steals, making him the first rookie to post at least 20 points and three steals this season.

The Hawks need the rookie to step up because if there’s one thing this team is missing, it’s shooters. AJ Griffin shot at an unreal clip at Duke, which is why I figured he’d be a crucial part of the team once the front office traded Kevin Huerter. However, through the team’s first nine games, Griffin played sparingly. Nate McMillan is notorious for not playing younger guys, but Griffin might not give him a choice. The Hawks need to get the rookie minutes, so he is comfortable down the stretch run and into the postseason.

Photographer: Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire

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