After a memorable duel between Vince Carter and Dwyane Wade on Monday evening, the Atlanta Hawks returned home to play host to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. The Hawks were able to hang with the Spurs throughout much of the game but the visitors pulled away late for the 111-104 victory.
The Hawks got off to a quick start on the night on the heels of back-to-back three-pointers by Taurean Prince and Alex Len to give Atlanta a 6-0 lead.
The Spurs responded with a heavy dose of LaMarcus Aldridge mid-range jumpers to get back even with the Hawks in a flash. San Antonio then took the lead just moments later when Derrick White threw down a ferocious jam on Len.
Action remained steady through the middle of the first as DeMar DeRozan decided to put on his playmaking cap, setting up Aldridge for another jumper and White at the rim. The Hawks went cold after a Trae Young floater in the lane at the eight-minute mark until just over 2:30 remaining in the first period.
The Hawks really struggled in the first quarter offensively, but for all their struggles, they still managed to score 23 points and only carry a four-point deficit into the second quarter.
In the second, Atlanta continued to struggle, as did the Spurs, but the team came to life around the seven minute mark after Kevin Huerter jump started the offense with a gorgeous pass down low to a wide open Len for a jam.
The Hawks then hit the Spurs with a flurry of three-pointers from Huerter, Len and Jaylen Adams to help re-take the lead.
The Spurs kept themselves in it by going to Davis Bertans, who had his own three-point stroke going, but it was the Hawks who could do no wrong in the second despite Young and Huerter combining to go 2-of-16 from the field.
Prince capped things off with a steal and circus layup to end the half with Atlanta up 56-53. The Hawks had to feel good about having a lead at the half with how their dynamic young perimeter duo played. John Collins was a big reason Atlanta held the lead, as he carried 10 points into the locker room.
The third period was much like the first for the Hawks, who started off slowly. DeRozan was dicing the defense and making his way to the rim with ease as San Antonio re-took the lead.
Huerter was able to get the Hawks going again with a nice turnaround jumper in the lane and then by teeing up Young for a much needed three.
Things got a bit weird midway through the period as Taurean Prince was ejected by referee Scott Foster in approximately 2.5 seconds without warning. Nothing is known as to what Prince said, but it was strictly words that got him tossed with two insanely quick techs.
Down the stretch of the third it was all Spurs, with Aldridge and Rudy Gay taking the majority of San Antonio’s shots. To top it all off, Alex Poythress went down at the end of the quarter with a really bad looking ankle roll which caused him to miss the rest of the game. It remains to be seen how long Poythress will be sidelined with an injury that was very reminiscent of the ankle sprain that will keep Omari Spellman out for at least four weeks.
Young was a big part of the third for the Hawks as he shot 4-of-5 after his rough first half and posted 11 points which Atlanta needed in the worst way. The Hawks only were able to scrounge 21 in the third while the Spurs, who came out of the half down three, took a three-point lead into the fourth.
The Hawks, despite all their ailing players, came into the fourth ready to play as Young made his way back into the lane where he was dissecting the Spurs defense with ease. After making a difficult runner for an and-1 opportunity, Young was able to force a turnover on the other end of the floor.
Around the midway point of the final frame, Vince Carter was body slammed and did not receive a call, but made sure to let the referee know about his displeasure and picked up a technical. After that he looked rather angry and came down the floor looking for blood on a big three-pointer to bring Atlanta back within two.
Kent Bazemore was then fouled on the next trip down the floor and made both free throws to pull Atlanta back to even with the Spurs. In the ensuing moments, Derrick White decided to lose his mind and give San Antonio seven points in less than a minute.
With the Hawks down by seven around the 2:30 mark of the fourth, Young hit two big free throws to keep hope alive. Then, as he seemingly does on a nightly basis now, Young calmly made his way down the floor on the Hawks next possession and exploded to the rim hitting a tough layup and getting an and-1 opportunity.
After a missed free throw the Hawks still found themselves down 3 and the Spurs weren’t going to make things any easier as they returned to Aldridge again for a post-up against Vince Carter which ended with a foul plus one for San Antonio.
Unfortunately the Spurs just made enough plays to irk out the win. One thing was apparent; this Spurs team does not look particularly solid in comparison to years past and the Hawks almost were able to pull it out.
Aldridge sealed the deal with 36 ticks remaining in the game as he caught the ball in the lane all alone for an easy layup. Atlanta went to Len down 110-102 and Alex was able to get an easy jump hook, but that was all for the Hawks tonight as there just wasn’t enough in the tank to pull out this win.
Atlanta was led by Young, who finished with 22 points but took 24 shots to get there. Collins pitched in 18 on 11 shots from the field and four trips to the free throw line to go with 10 rebounds. San Antonio were carried by Aldridge, who was sensational offensively in this game to the tune of 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting. White was phenomenal in the fourth quarter and finished with 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and a stellar 6 blocks.
The Hawks will have two days off before returning to action against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night at State Farm Arena.