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Hawks drop hard-fought contest in San Antonio, 96-85

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The Hawks got a career night from John Collins but couldn’t get shots to fall.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks were back in action Monday night in the heart of Texas to face off against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. The Hawks haven’t had a win in San Antonio since 1997 and were looking to break that streak against a Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs team.

The Hawks nearly had their full complement of players active Monday night, only Mike Muscala and Isaiah Taylor were inactive for Atlanta after a slough of injuries lately.

In the first quarter, the game seemed to struggle to get started with the Spurs being almost dead last in pace of play. The Hawks weren’t able to get out and run early and struggled to hit some three pointers that they usually would make. Dewayne Dedmon gave the Hawks some life late in the first with a couple of jumpers and tough rebounds and the Hawks came out of the first down 24-22.

The second period featured the Spurs clamping down on defense harder, especially on the Hawks guards who couldn’t make a shot. The Hawks played some pretty good defense of their own and limited the Spurs to just 22 in the quarter and took a manageable deficit into the locker room, 46-38.

Atlanta came out strong in the third even though the game still was dragging on slowly. Neither team was knocking down threes efficiently, but a few good defensive plays matched with some good outside shooting from the Hawks got them eventually almost tied. Alongside some great plays from John Collins on offense, the Hawks clawed even closer going into the fourth with a chance to win down 70-65.

The Hawks played hard down the stretch and really leaned on their young pieces Prince and Collins to lead them. Luke Babbitt did not play in the second half and he was ruled out early in the third quarter as a result of a lingering lower back issue. In the end, the Spurs hit a few shots and took advantage of the Hawks lack of experience in closing games to come out with a hard-fought win.

For the Hawks, the story of the night was John Collins, who earned a second half start at power forward. Collins had 21 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks to seal a career night against some pretty tough competition and his 36 minutes represented a career-best workload in the process.

Atlanta will be back in action on Wednesday at Philips Arena. Stay tuned.