DeRozan leads Spurs to strong start, 125-114 win over Hawks
ATLANTA (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points and the San Antonio Spurs capitalized on a dominant finish to the first half to beat Trae Young and the slumping Atlanta Hawks 125-114 on Friday night.
The Spurs opened a seven-game trip with a season-high 77 points in the first half. They have won four of their last five games.
“We just wanted to come out and make our stamp on the game early,” point guard Derrick White said.
“This is a huge seven games. ... It’s a good start for us.”
Keldon Johnson had 20 points and Dejounte Murray added 16. DeRozan had eight assists.
Young led the Hawks with 25 points. Young and other Atlanta starters sat out most of the second half after San Antonio stretched its lead to 39.
“Our starters weren’t very good,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “They weren’t good at all. Our second unit did a good job of making the night somewhat decent.”
The Hawks have lost five of their last six games.
San Antonio led the full game and pulled away with 16 straight points late in the first half. The Spurs outscored the Hawks 41-19 in the second quarter.
San Antonio led 57-44 before starting the 16-0 run. Murray sank a 3-pointer and another jumper, and rookie Devin Vassell added a 3.
The Spurs led 77-48 at the break after scoring their most points in any half this season. Their previous high mark for points in a first half was 66 in a 131-119 win at Memphis on Dec. 23.
The 77 points are the most allowed by Atlanta in a first half this season.
“We laid an egg defensively with our effort and our energy,” Pierce said.
The Spurs continued their hot shooting to open the second half. A 3-pointer and another basket by Johnson stretched the lead to 82-48.
After San Antonio took its big lead at 100-61 with 5:40 remaining in the third period, Pierce called a timeout and pulled all his starters. Backups played the remainder of the game.
The Spurs seemed to lose their shooting touch against Atlanta's backups. After making 65.5% of their shots from the field while building the 100-61 lead, the Spurs finished at 52.9% for the game.
Spurs: Jakob Poeltl had 14 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and three steals. ... White (toe) had 11 points after missing the second game of a back-to-back on Tuesday. White's return as a starter pushed Vassell back to the bench following his first career start. ... F LaMarcus Aldridge (sore right hip) missed his fifth consecutive game.
Hawks: Clint Capela had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season. He has 10 or more rebounds in 20 of 22 games. ... After scoring a season-high 23 points in a 118-117 loss at Dallas on Wednesday night, Kevin Huerter made only two of eight shots for five points. ... Rajon Rondo (back) missed his second consecutive game.
RODEO ROAD TRIP
The strong start was especially important as a momentum-building launch to the Spurs’ annual long road trip while San Antonio’s Stock Show & Rodeo is held at the AT&T Center.
“It’s a great win,” Murray said. “We talked before ... about how big this rodeo trip is. We focused on Atlanta and just came out and competed.”
Hawks rookie Skylar Mays took advantage of the extended playing time to score a career-high 20 points — his first game with more than two points. Mays sank 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
Spurs: Continue their seven-game road trip on Sunday at Charlotte.
Hawks: Complete a back-to-back at home against Indiana on Saturday night.
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