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Hawks beat the Spurs in MLK day thriller, 102-99

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The Hawks pulled off a fantastic and improbable win against the skidding Spurs.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks were back in action on Martin Luther King Jr. day in Atlanta to face off against LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs in a daytime matinee. The Spurs haven’t been their dominant selves of late as they’ve managed a 6-4 record over their last 10 games coming into Atlanta on Monday.

Atlanta’s inactives for Monday’s game included only DeAndre’ Bembry who will not play as he continues his rehab from a “left groin strain” that may keep him sidelined longer than first anticipated.

The Hawks, per usual, started the game out slow as the Spurs worked the ball inside and got to the foul line early on. LaMarcus Aldridge was on fire in the first against Miles Plumlee who was simply too slow to keep up with Aldridge and the Spurs took advantage. The Hawks would fight back however as they got some outstanding play from the Dewayne Dedmon/John Collins frontcourt combo late in the quarter and with Malcolm Delaney closing the quarter strong the Hawks took only a 2-point deficit to the second quarter, 23-21.

The Hawks did play much better as a whole in the second quarter getting contributions from rookie Tyler Dorsey beyond the three-point line. The Spurs countered nicely with some good shooting from Patty Mills and Danny Green to hold onto their lead, but the Hawks tightened their defense late in the second and were only down 48-44 going into the locker room at the halfway point.

The third quarter was a great defensive effort by the Hawks as a whole getting good closeouts on shooters and keeping San Antonio on their toes. Ersan was big in the early going on the offensive end alongside Dennis Schroder who showed his ability to create for others as well as himself. The offense was hard to come by for the Spurs, but they did get some good minutes from Dejounte Murray in the third. The Hawks got things ready to make a run in the fourth quarter with the Spurs clinging to a one-point lead after three quarters, 73-72.

Atlanta’s bench unit did some serious work early on in the fourth working the Hawks to a 78-76 lead with just over 9 minutes remaining. The home team cracked down on defense big time with some good play out of the guard rotation the whole game. Going down the stretch Dennis Schroder again put all his skills on display with good shooting, passing and even getting in the passing lanes on defense. Dennis Schroder really took control late in the game but it was Dewayne Dedmon with the biggest shot of the game on a rebound and was fouled giving the Hawks a 5 point lead with a minute remaining. The Spurs got some absurdly hard shots to go down from LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green to get things tight late but it was Dennis Schroder who came up big and put in a pair of daggers. The Hawks would make some huge free throws down the stretch and would not relinquish the lead to give Coach Budenholzer just his second win in 10 tries against his mentor Gregg Popovich.

The Hawks will be right back at it after a thrilling victory on Wednesday when Atlanta goes toe to toe with the Pelicans and their huge frontcourt duo. Stay tuned.