Here comes Tim Duncan once again. It turns out San Antonio’s steady star needed a couple weeks to find his rejuvenated form from a year ago.
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Duncan made a jumper with 0.4 seconds left to lift the Spurs to a 102-100 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.
"(Duncan) did a great job," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We were having a tough night in a lot of ways and he was superb."
Duncan finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds, becoming the oldest player with 20 points and 20 rebounds since the NBA began keeping track of rebounds during the 1985-86 season.
"We know the type of player he is," Atlanta center Al Horford said. "He’s just a winner; he finds ways every time."
Boris Diaw had 16 points and Tiago Splitter finished with 11 as San Antonio outscored the younger and more athletic Atlanta front court 50-40.
The Hawks had all five starters score in double figures. Jeff Teague had 19 points, Horford added 18 and DeMarre Carroll finished with 17.
After struggling in the first month of the season, including a career-low two points on Nov. 13 against Washington, the 37-year-old Duncan is starting to pick up his play. He is averaging 16.6 points and 10.2 rebounds in his last five games.
"I feel a lot healthier now," he said. "For a while there, I was dealing with some stuff, but now my body is feeling good and I’m starting to get my legs underneath me."
The Hawks trailed 98-94 when Paul Millsap made a 3-pointer over Diaw with 17.5 seconds remaining. Manu Ginobili then made a pair of free throws for the Spurs, but Teague drained a 3 over Kawhi Leonard to tie it at 100 with 4.7 seconds left.
Curling off a pick by Marco Belinelli, Duncan drained a jumper over the 6-foot-8 Carroll near the free-throw line to put San Antonio ahead to stay.
"Tonight was good for (Duncan)," Ginobili said, "but we never lost trust in him. We would be crazy if we did. It does feel good to see him coming back, especially over the past few games."
Millsap’s desperation jumper hit the side of the backboard.
"They did a good job running that play," Horford said. "They had guys flying all over the place. Belinelli came into the paint, I called the switch. If I could have gone back, I probably would have tried to chase Duncan off of there, but Belinelli got me pretty good, I’ve got to give him credit. That’s how he was able to get free and get that shot up."
The Hawks knew the play was coming since they are coached by longtime Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer.
There were 20 lead changes and 17 ties in a game with almost identical schemes.
"It was a heck of an NBA basketball game," Budenholzer said. "I’m proud of our guys. It was a very good effort. If we play that long and that hard in games, we’re going to be OK. San Antonio tests you in a lot of different ways. They test you on both ends of the court. It’s good for our guys to compete the way they competed."
Tony Parker added 15 points for the Spurs. Belinelli had 13 and Ginobili finished with 10.
The Spurs returned to their ball-sharing ways after they struggled on offense in a loss to Houston.
Nine of the 10 Spurs who played in the first half scored. Danny Green didn’t score until there was 2:54 remaining in the game, but it proved to be a critical basket. He drained a jumper just before the shot clock expired to give San Antonio a 94-87 lead.
"It’s a very, very (tough loss)," Millsap said. "The effort was there, the effort was definitely there. Guys were out there in sync. So to get out there and lay it all out there and not come out with the victory is kind of tough."
NOTES:Budenholzer received a loud ovation from the crowd during pregame introductions. He spent 19 seasons with San Antonio, including the previous 17 years as an assistant. … Diaw played with his two fingers heavily taped after dislocating his left middle finger during San Antonio’s loss to Houston on Saturday. . Spurs G Cory Joseph and P Aron Baynes were recalled Monday from the NBA Developmental League team in Austin.