San Antonio Spurs 97, Atlanta Hawks 90: Closing in by closing out
Still a ways from playoff form, but closer to clinching home court advantage throughout, the San Antonio Spurs shook off the fourth quarter demons that plagued them through their six-game losing streak and defeated a short-handed Atlanta Hawks team 97-90.
Tonight was not so much about execution–though that’s not to say they failed to execute–as it was the individual talents and determination of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.
The Big Three combined for 61 of the Spurs 97 points, with George Hill joining them as the only other Spurs player in double digit scoring. San Antonio shot 50 percent from the field, so it’s hard to call the offense inefficient, but the Spurs were absent the ball and player movement that has been a trademark of their efficient offense all season.
In all the Spurs recorded only 14 assists as a team, the lack of scoring and shot attempts from all role players save George Hill being a good indicator the ball was not moving around as much as we’ve grown accustomed to.
Instead Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker continued to call their own number, with Parker in particular causing damage for the Hawks on a series of spin moves and mid range jump shots on his way to 26 points on 10-16 shooting.
And while the game was far from pretty, sometimes against inferior teams it’s all about who can put the best player on the floor. The Atlanta Hawks have both the best and worst weapons you could think of to attack the Spurs defense, employing a mobile big man with range out to 20 feet and the less successful iso joe.
There are a few things the Spurs have struggled to defend all season, but give the defense a stationary target to latch onto and more often than not they’re going to be able to take it away.
On the other end, Hawks denied the Spurs three-point shooters quality most of the night, but at the expense of leaving the rim open for Manu Ginobili, who had more layups in one night than I can recall from the last several games. The Spurs hit a single three-pointer the entire night, which would normally have been disastrousÂ had it not been fore the Big Three getting to the line six times each.
To say the Spurs have been live by the three die by the three all season long would be inaccurate, as the team has also managed to get to the free throw line to help offset their numerous three-point attempts.
The Spurs return home Wednesday night with the magic number at 2 victories to secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to a little help from the Utah Jazz knocking off the Los Angeles Lakers.