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Johnson scores 31 to help Hawks beat Bucks 104-96

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- If this was a preview of Atlanta's first-round playoff series, Joe Johnson gave the Milwaukee Bucks plenty to worry about.

And he's certainly not the only concern for the Bucks, who have lost two straight games to potential first-round opponents and might finally be starting to feel the loss of injured center Andrew Bogut.

Johnson scored 31 points and the Hawks beat Milwaukee 104-96 on Monday night, solidifying their spot as the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.

" I think the focus tonight was a little different considering this is a potential matchup in the playoffs,'' Johnson said. " Knowing we had this game and one more left for the regular season, we want to go out with a bang and go into the postseason with some momentum."

He definitely did his part, shooting 12 for 19 from the floor and 4 for 6 from 3-point range.

Bucks veteran Jerry Stackhouse said Johnson is bound to get his points, and Milwaukee needs to shut down the rest of the Hawks' lineup. That didn't happen Monday, as Marvin Williams had 18 points and the Hawks put six scorers in double figures.

" He's going to have big games,'' Stackhouse said of Johnson. " If we can try to keep everyone else from becoming factors, that might be the key."

John Salmons scored 28 points and Brandon Jennings added 21 in the regular-season home finale for the Bucks. Jennings was 2 for 11 from 3-point range.

It was the second straight matchup with a potential first-round opponent for the Bucks, who lost to Boston on Saturday.

" It's either Atlanta or Boston,'' Jennings said. " I think they are both beatable for us. We've been hanging with them the whole year. But, like they say, the playoffs are going to be a different level, so we'll see."

Milwaukee dropped into sixth place in the East, a game behind fifth-place Miami, which beat Philadelphia 107-105.

The Bucks and Heat each have one game remaining, and Milwaukee holds the tiebreaker.

Hawks forward Josh Smith pulled a groin muscle in the first quarter but returned and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds - and six blocked shots, tying a season high.

The Hawks had 11 blocks as a team.

" It's all about timing and anticipation,'' Smith said. " As long as I'm trying to time the shot and go for a pump fake or something like that, and not get a foul, that's the key."

With the loss, the Bucks are 3-2 since Bogut broke his hand, dislocated his elbow and sprained his wrist in a hard fall to the court that wrenched his right arm in an April 3 game against Phoenix. He will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on his hand.

It was a tough loss for the Bucks, especially so late in the season.

" That goes without saying,'' Stackhouse said. " We lost an All-Star center last week, and you don't just replace him. You try to make up ground."

With his hand in a cast and brace underneath his sport coat, Bogut addressed the crowd before the game, thanking fans for their support and saying he intended to come back stronger next season.

Bogut spoke briefly to reporters earlier in the evening, saying that he had been fitted with a new, smaller cast - covered by a bulky black brace - earlier in the day and acknowledging that his broken right hand feels like " garbage."

Trailing 78-70 going into the fourth quarter, Milwaukee made a late surge.

A steal set up a fast-break layup by Salmons, cutting Atlanta's lead to 96-91 with 2:30 left. Williams made a layup for Atlanta, putting the Hawks up with seven with 1:52 to play.

Milwaukee's Luke Ridnour - whose solid play helped the Bucks get back in the game - missed a jumper, but Milwaukee got the ball back on a loose ball foul.

Salmons went to the line and hit the first but missed the second. Jennings grabbed the loose ball on the rebound, but Salmons missed from 3-point range, leaving the Hawks ahead by six.

NOTES: Jamal Crawford did not play for Atlanta. Hawks coach Mike Woodson said before the game that he was considering giving Crawford the night off because of nagging injuries. ... Stackhouse had all 13 of his points in the first half, going 3 for 4 from 3-point range. ... Woodson said Smith's groin injury wasn't serious. " He's fine,'' Woodson said. " He'll be ready to go tomorrow in practice."

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