Spurs cruise past Hawks 108-92
By PAUL J. WEBER
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Dominant as the San Antonio Spurs have been, the only major category they're atop the NBA so far is 3-point shooting.
The Atlanta Hawks learned that can be enough.
Richard Jefferson scored 18 points, hitting three of his five 3s in the fourth quarter, and the Spurs won their fourth straight to maintain the NBA's best record with a 108-92 victory over the Hawks on Friday night.
Manu Ginobili also had 18 points. The Spurs at one point made 3-pointers on four of five possessions in the final six minutes to overwhelm the Hawks, who had taken the lead to start the fourth quarter.
"In the fourth quarter we found so many open 3s," Ginobili said. "It's something so basic, and so important on every team, because it makes everyone happy and feel involved in the offense."
Tony Parker added 17 points for the Spurs, who again denied the Hawks their first victory in San Antonio since 1997. DeJuan Blair had 16 points and 12 rebounds, getting his third double-double of the season.
Jamal Crawford led the Hawks with 23 points. Atlanta arrived as one of the hottest teams in the East, but lost for just the second time in nine games.
The Hawks dropped to 2-6 against teams currently with winning records, this time giving up a brief fourth-quarter lead against the NBA's best. The Spurs are 19-3 and kept the fastest start in franchise history going.
Al Horford had 19 points and Josh Smith scored 15 for the Hawks, but Smith played just four minutes midway through the fourth before leaving with what he described as cramps.
He said he may have aggravated his hamstring but expects to play Saturday back home against Indiana.
"I felt like I could have done something for us to win that game and close that gap," Smith said. "A couple blown coverages when I went out of the game. It's always frustrating when you know you can help your team but I just wasn't able to shake those cramps off."
Atlanta looked like it might end 13 years of misery in San Antonio when Maurice Evans' layup gave the Hawks a 73-71 lead to start the fourth, but it was short-lived.
Ginobili tied the game the next possession, and the Spurs went on a 18-6 run over the next six minutes to build their lead to double figures. Atlanta committed nearly half of their 15 turnovers in the fourth, when they turned the ball over seven times.
"The one thing we could not do was turn the basketball over, and in the fourth quarter we totally lost our composure," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "As I told the guys at halftime, all it takes is two or three short spans of possessions before the game can get out of hand."
Jefferson finished 5 for 6 from behind the 3-point line for the Spurs, the NBA's best 3-point shooting team. They entered the game shooting .407 from behind the arc, and made 10 of 21 against the Hawks.
The Hawks fell to 4-2 without All-Star guard Joe Johnson, who likely won't return until at least January after having right elbow surgery. The Hawks again put Marvin Williams in the backcourt with Mike Bibby for a third straight game, but lost with that starting combo for the first time.
Williams had 15 points and seven rebounds, but Bibby had a bad night, scoring nine on just 4-of-12 shooting. Crawford was 8 of 18 from the floor.
Drew worried before the game about stopping Parker and the pick-and-roll, but the Spurs spread the damage around. They had six players in double figures, including George Hill's 16 points off the bench. Tim Duncan scored 12 before resting the entire fourth quarter.
The Spurs are 4-0 on their six-game homestand. It's their longest one this season, and they'll only play three of their remaining 10 games in December on the road.
Notes: Duncan will play in his 1,000th regular-season game Sunday against Portland. ... Hawks backup C ZaZa Pachulia (illness) didn't make the trip to San Antonio. ... It was the second time in two games the Spurs extended a team's misery in San Antonio for a 13th straight year. Golden State couldn't break the curse here this week, either.
Updated December 10, 2010