After a successful three-game homestand, the Spurs returned to the dreaded road to take on the Atlanta Hawks. In a refreshing change of scenery, the Spurs actually took care of business in semi-convincing, if unspectacular fashion for a 111-104 win. The Spurs were in control most of the night, and despite failing to ever pull away (even giving up the lead a few times) they always had an answer to the Hawks’ runs and performed well in the clutch, which is more than can be said for the RRT Spurs. I’ll take it.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 32 points and 9 rebounds, and Derrick White continued his stat-stuffing ways with 18 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and a career-high 6 blocks. He also played amazing defense on Hawks’ ROY candidate Trae Young, who had 24 points on just 8-24 from the field.
- With Jakob Poeltl out with a sore hamstring, the Spurs were back to their familiar starting line-up with Rudy Gay taking his place.
- Young has been putting up Curry-esque numbers on offense lately, but White wasn’t afraid to show him he’s still just a rookie early with a strip in transition defense on one end, and going right by him for a thunderous dunk over Alex Len on the other. Is there anything this guy can’t do?
- The line-up of Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Davis Bertans and Drew Eubanks was predictably painful to watch on defense. After sleepwalking through the most of the first quarter, the Hawks offense came alive and closed an 11-point lead to 4 against this group. White and Gay were back in to start the second quarter.
- In a particularly satisfying stretch in the second quarter, Hawks rookie Kevin Huerter — a red-head who blasphemously goes by “The Red Mamba” — hit a three, to which the Spurs’ own ginger in Bertans immediately responded with three threes of his own. It was good to see considering he has been in a slump lately, only hitting 2-11 threes in the last five games. He missed his next five (one being a 3⁄4 court heave at the third quarter buzzer) before hitting a big one in the fourth. Does going 4-10 overall count as breaking out of his slump?
- Time to complain about another arena announcer. Ryan Cameron’s high pitched “threeeeeeeeeeee!” is super annoying, especially without an engaged crowd to help drown it out.
- Referee Scott Foster is known by the players for being the least approachable official in the league, and that played out when seemingly out of nowhere he hit Taurean Prince with a double-technical early in the third quarter, presumably for something he said. There’s no way of knowing what that was (or what there was to complain about in that moment), but let’s just say most ejections have much more obvious actions behind them.
- Mills didn’t have the three falling tonight (1-7), but he did a good job taking advantage of the Hawks’ lack of shot blockers with drives to the rim. He hit all four of his twos on the night to tie Bertans with 12 points off the bench.
- White was the man of the fourth quarter, with 7 straight points to perk up his slacking Spurs team, and his effort on defense got contagious down the stretch. The Spurs actually played defense, controlled the clock well before creating good looks, and hit their free throws to close this one out. I think we know whose hands the ball should be in during the clutch from here on out.
For the Hawks fans’ perspective, visit Peach Tree Hoops.
The Spurs return to San Antonio on Sunday to take on the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks. Tip-off will be at 7:00 PM CT on FSSW.