Mon, Dec 2 Hawks-Spurs Preview
AT&T Center - San Antonio, Texas
By TAYLOR BECHTOLD, Associated Press
The San Antonio Spurs are trying to avoid their first consecutive losses of the season. They should have a good chance to do it against an Atlanta Hawks team they've dominated over the years.
The Spurs look to bounce back from their first home loss when they go for their 16th straight victory over the Hawks in San Antonio on Monday night.
This game also marks the return of Atlanta first-year coach Mike Budenholzer to San Antonio, where he spent nearly 20 years as a video coordinator and assistant coach.
After winning their first seven home games, the Spurs (14-3) trailed by 23 before coming back to take a late three-point lead against Houston on Saturday. The Rockets, however, scored the final nine points in a 112-106 win.
Tony Parker returned from a one-game absence because of an ankle injury and finished with a season-high 27 points. Tim Duncan had 20 and Marco Belinelli added 18 with four 3-pointers for San Antonio, which has dropped two of three.
The Spurs will try to get back on track defensively after allowing a season-high point total at home. They had given up an average of 89.3 in their previous seven in San Antonio.
"It's a great lesson for us,'' coach Gregg Popovich said. ''When you play a good basketball team, you've got to come with passion, an edge and aggressiveness for 48 minutes - and we did that for a half."
Parker appeared to be fine after missing Friday's 109-91 win at Orlando, hitting 13 of 27 from the field. The five-time All-Star, though, has averaged just 12.6 points and 40.9 percent shooting in his last five home games against the Hawks (9-9). He missed the most recent meeting April 6 because of a neck injury.
Duncan led the way with 31 points and 14 rebounds in that contest, while Kawhi Leonard scored 23 in the 99-97 home win. Duncan has never lost to the Hawks at home in 14 career meetings.
Atlanta seeks its first win in San Antonio since Feb. 15, 1997, having lost the last 15 visits by an average of 17.5 points. The Hawks have averaged 85.7 points and 41.5 percent shooting during that skid, and they're slumping heading into this matchup.
Since scoring 101.8 per game and shooting 47.3 percent during an 8-5 start, they've averaged 90.4 and 41.8 while dropping four of five.
Atlanta cut an 18-point, third-quarter deficit to 81-79 with 9:42 left before falling 108-101 in Washington on Saturday. Paul Millsap had 23 points and 10 rebounds while Al Horford scored 16 and Jeff Teague added 15.
"We're trying to find ourselves as a team, trying to put it together," said Horford, who has missed two of the last three meetings with the Spurs due to injury. "Hopefully we can get it going. I think we will."
Teague, averaging a team-high 17.3 points, has scored 11.5 and shot 30.2 percent in his last four road games. He finished with six points while going 3 of 11 in last season's loss in San Antonio.
Backcourt mate Kyle Korver may not be able to play after missing the past three games with a bruised rib. He has made at least one 3-pointer in 88 consecutive games, one shy of Dana Barros' all-time record.