Splitter, Leonard lead San Antonio’s rout of Hawks
ATLANTA (AP) — Tony Parker can’t really explain why the San Antonio Spurs have been mediocre on the road this season.
In Sunday’s game, at least, Parker liked how the Spurs took a big lead on the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Hawks and never let up.
"For whatever reason, we haven’t had the same rhythm like in years past," said Parker, a four-time NBA champion. "It felt good to get one against a very good team."
Tiago Splitter scored a season-high 23 points, Kawhi Leonard added 20 points and the Spurs won their third straight game with an easy 114-95 victory over the Hawks.
Paul Millsap finished with 22 points and Dennis Schroder had 18 points for Atlanta, which has dropped three in a row for the first time this season.
"We haven’t had one of these all year, but it’s here," Hawks center Al Horford said. "It’s something we’re dealing with. We have a strong group of guys here. We’ll stick together and fight through it."
Boris Diaw scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, and Danny Green added 15 for the Spurs, who never trailed and took their biggest lead at 26 early in the third.
San Antonio improved to 18-17 on the road.
Playing their fourth straight game with key reserve Manu Ginobili nursing a sprained right ankle, the Spurs contested nearly every Hawks shot and pass, but no Atlanta player looked more flustered than 12th-year guard Kyle Korver.
Wearing protective gear on his face to cover up a broken nose, Korver returned after a three-game absence and committed five turnovers — matching a season high. His errant pass to begin the second half resulted in a steal and layup by Tim Duncan that made it 61-41.
"I’m grateful for the mask," Korver said. "Shooting felt fine. You have to keep adjusting. I turned the ball over a lot, kind of made some bad reads, so I’ll keep on trying to get used to it."
Duncan finished with 12 points. Marco Belinelli scored all 13 of his points in the second and hit all three of his 3-point attempts.
San Antonio improved to 10-2 since snapping a four-game losing streak March 4.
"We had a good start, shot the ball well and ball movement was great again tonight," Parker said. "It was one of those games where we played very well."
Leonard made some smooth moves in the first quarter, using a running one-hander in the lane to make it 24-6 and a long jumper from the right corner to put the Spurs up 20 on their next possession.
Late in the second, Leonard stole the ball from Jeff Teague and banked in a 10-footer to put San Antonio up 57-37.
Spurs: Splitter made eight of his first nine attempts from the field. Leonard had a game-high 10 rebounds and tied Duncan with a game-high seven assists.
Hawks: Millsap is averaging 19.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his last five games.
Longtime NBA referee Joey Crawford ejected Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer, who spent 19 seasons as an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, with 9:07 left in the third.
Budenholzer, given a technical a minute earlier by referee David Guthrie, was frustrated by the Spurs getting called for only five fouls when Crawford yelled, "Mike, get out!"
Atlanta had 11 fouls at the time. San Antonio began the game 10 for 11 on free throws before Atlanta took its first foul shot.
Crawford jawed with a male fan between the third and fourth quarters, the fan yelling, "Why don’t you watch the replay?" Crawford yelled back, "Why don’t you watch what you’re looking at?"
NOT THIS TIME
After blowing a 13-point advantage in the third quarter last week to lose in overtime at New York, the Spurs never let up on Atlanta and frustrated the Hawks into 18 turnovers.
San Antonio was up 26 after Green hit a free throw following Budenholzer’s second technical, and the Spurs never let Atlanta cut the lead to single digits.
Spurs: Visit Dallas on Tuesday.
Hawks: Visit Orlando on Wednesday.