Parker, Spurs end Hawks' home win streak
Tony Parker spent the past month scoring big to compensate for the absence of Manu Ginobili. With Ginobili back, Parker picked up his scoring even more to help the San Antonio Spurs win without Tim Duncan.
Parker scored 42 points and the Spurs ended Atlanta's eight-game home winning streak with a 102-92 victory on Wednesday night.
"In San Antonio there are high expectations," Parker said. "Nobody cares if Manu is out for 30 games and Timmy is in and out. They want to see us in the top and that's what we're trying to do."
Despite the loss, the Hawks clinched their second straight playoff spot, thanks to losses by Milwaukee, Charlotte and New Jersey.
Parker, who has held or shared the team lead in scoring in 16 of the Spurs' past 17 games, enjoyed his second-best scoring total of the season. He set a career high with 55 points at Minnesota on Nov. 5.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested Duncan the day after a home win over Golden State. Duncan already sat out back-to-back games earlier this month to rest his knees.
Parker made 18 of 25 shots and each of his six free throws.
"My shot was feeling good tonight and it opened up stuff for me in the second half," said Parker, who had 10 assists.
"I'm just going to try to keep it going and not be satisfied with myself because you know Pop is going to be on me the next game."
Hawks coach Mike Woodson said he tried different defensive schemes but none were effective.
"Parker was the difference tonight," Woodson said. "We were a step behind him from the very beginning."
The Hawks remained a step behind Parker to the end, when the guard scored six straight points after the Hawks cut San Antonio's lead to 96-90.
"It got to the point we didn't know what to do with him," Atlanta's Al Horford said. "He had a great night tonight."
Joe Johnson had 30 points, including Atlanta's first 11 points of the fourth quarter, but he had too little help as the Hawks suffered their first loss at Philips Arena since March 1.
No other Atlanta player scored in the final period until Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 1:54 remaining and Josh Smith added a jam 30 seconds later to cut the Spurs' lead to 96-90.
"Joe was Joe, but we needed more than just Joe," Woodson said.
The Hawks have lost two of three, including a loss at Cleveland.
"It's disappointing because we are right there and we have lost to two elite teams in Cleveland and San Antonio," Maurice Evans said. "That's the true test, how you stack up against the best in the league."
Ginobili had two points in 13 minutes as he returned in a limited role after missing 19 games with a right ankle injury.
Roger Mason had 18 points and Michael Finley added 13 for the Spurs.
Flip Murray, who had a season-high 30 points against Minnesota on Monday, stayed hot by scoring 13 points in his first 8 minutes off the bench in the first half. Murray, who finished with 15 points, helped the Hawks stay close early despite Parker's 20 first-half points.
With Parker making 10 of 13 shots, the Spurs led 53-48 at halftime and stretched the lead to double figures at 72-61. Mason had back-to-back 3-pointers in a 12-3 run in the third period.
The Hawks answered with a 13-2 run to pull even at 74 entering the final period.
Ginobili was playing in his first game since Feb. 11.
"I felt a little rusty and slow tonight," he said. "I wasn't expecting to have a great game. I just wanted to get back into game action."
Ginobili said Parker "managed the game from the opening tip to the last whistle."
"This is one of the best games I've seen Tony play," Ginobili said.
Bibby needed four stitches in his forehead to close a cut after he was hit by Matt Bonner late in the first quarter. He returned midway through the second period. ... Former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, a Texas native who could be the first pick in next month's NFL draft, watched the game from a courtside seat near the Hawks' bench. ... Johnson played 44 minutes despite twisting his right ankle when landing awkwardly on Josh Smith's foot less than a minute into the game. Johnson remained in the game after Woodson called a timeout to check on his condition.