Spurs beat Hawks for 17th straight time at home
SAN ANTONIO (AP) San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich groused over his team’s early schedule, dumbfounded that the Spurs had played only two games nearly two weeks into the season.
Well, the Atlanta Hawks gave Popovich a season-full of grief in the Spurs’ third game.
Tim Duncan had 17 points and 13 rebounds and San Antonio held off a frenetic effort by Atlanta to capture its 17th straight win at home over the Hawks, 94-92 on Wednesday night.
The Spurs had a season-high 25 assists for a balanced scoring effort they needed to fend off an energetic effort by the Hawks that resulted in a furious second-half comeback.
Atlanta finished with 92 shots, 23 more than San Antonio, in rallying from a 17-point deficit in the first half.
The Spurs (2-1) had not played since Friday in Phoenix, but Popovich was not about to blame Wednesday’s effort, or lack thereof, on the schedule.
”I have no idea,” Popovich said, still clearly upset after the game.
There was plenty to be upset about after the Spurs nearly blew an impressive start.
San Antonio raced to a 13-point lead in the first quarter and took a 44-27 lead on Tony Parker’s floating jumper with 4:33 left in the first half.
Seven Spurs played in double figures, including 17 from Parker. Manu Ginobili added 12 points, including a pair of free throws that put San Antonio ahead with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Then a double-team forced Jeff Teague to pass up an attempted 3-pointer, and Pero Antic’s shot from near halfcourt was blocked by Boris Diaw as time expired.
”They did a good job of defending it,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. ”There was a couple of options. Give them credit, they defended everything well and we didn’t get a good look.”
DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap had 17 points each for Atlanta (1-2). Teague finished with seven assists and five points on 2-for-8 shooting.
The Spurs have never lost at home to the Hawks since drafting Duncan and have won 16 of 17 overall, but they had to hold on late to extend the streak.
After Carroll’s 19-foot jumper tied the game, Al Horford’s 15-footer gave Atlanta its first lead at 90-88 with 1:16 remaining.
Ginobili followed with three free throws after being fouled by Kyle Korver with 1:01 remaining.
Duncan made 1 of 2 free throws but Teague tied it at 92 with 13.6 seconds remaining on a driving bank shot before Ginobili won it with his free throws.
”This one hurts. I thought we played really well in the second half, but the reality is a lot of times games are won in the first quarter not just the fourth quarter,” Korver said. ”But they talk about the fourth quarter and how it’s a different level of play, and it is, but you’ve got to come out ready every night. We put ourselves in a big hole and didn’t quite have enough.”
Spurs: Tiago Splitter aggravated the calf injury that forced him to miss San Antonio’s first two games and all of its preseason. Splitter finished with five points and four rebounds in 10 minutes. His status is questionable for Thursday’s game in Houston. … Rookie Kyle Anderson did not suit up with Leonard and Splitter returning from injury. … San Antonio G Marco Belinelli left the game with a mild strain of his right groin after five minutes. Belinelli missed his only attempt and was 1 for 2 on free throws when he exited with one point. … Duncan has 799 double-doubles in 1,255 career games, which averages to one every 1.6 games. He is sixth on the all-time list, trailing Utah legend Karl Malone by 15.
Hawks: Atlanta’s last victory in San Antonio came Feb. 15, 1997, against a Spurs team minus an injured David Robinson. … Korver scored seven points, giving him 8,003 points for his career. … The Hawks held their first two opponents to a combined 40 percent shooting, but the Spurs shot 45 percent.
Spurs: Visits Houston on Thursday.
Hawks: Visits Charlotte on Friday.
Popovich and Duncan became the first player-coach tandem to win a combined 900 career victories with Wednesday’s win. The pair has also won five NBA titles since Duncan was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 draft.
Trailing by 13 points midway through the third quarter, Atlanta rallied behind big plays from diminutive Dennis Schroder.
The guard, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 172 pounds, scored on a driving layup then threw down a running, one-handed dunk between Parker and Duncan to cut San Antonio’s lead to 77-76 with 8 minutes remaining.
Popovich remains undefeated against his three former assistants who are currently serving as NBA head coaches. Budenholzer is 0-3 against Popovich, Philadelphia’s Brett Brown is 0-2 and Orlando’s Jacque Vaughn is 0-4.