The Atlanta Hawks came into their road matchup with the San Antonio Spurs as winners of nine of their last 11 games, including a 6-1 stretch since starting center Al Horford went down with a torn left pectoral on January 11, but they simply couldn't keep up with the Spurs on Wednesday night. San Antonio used efficient performances from their role players to accomplish 51.2 percent shooting as a team while recording 29 assists on 42 made baskets. Without Horford to protect the paint, the Spurs worked their offense inside-out as DeJuan Blair scored 17 points on 8-12 shooting, Matt Bonner added 17 points with 5-7 from beyond the arc and Tiago Splitter dropped in 16 points on 5-6 from the field. While San Antonio used 52 points in the paint to maintain a flow of scoring throughout the game, Atlanta only managed 34 points in the paint and suffered through several scoring droughts laced with errant jumpers. The Spurs slowly pulled away in the second half and pocketed a very comfortable 105-83 win.
The game didn't really look like a blowout in the first half. Jeff Teague attacked the rim and penetrated with a purpose for the Hawks in the first half, collecting 13 of his team-high 20 points during that time, but nobody ever followed his lead. While Teague hit 9 of his 13 shots, the rest of the team only managed 38.8 percent from the field on the night. The Hawks' point guard helped to keep the Spurs within 4 points at the half, but as the contest advanced the disparity started to show. As Atlanta settled for more and more long jumpshots -- they only attempted 11 shots in the paint during the final two periods -- San Antonio surged ahead with a 33-13 run that made the final seven minutes of the game nothing more than a simple matter of course.
With Horford out, the Hawks have been leaning heavily on Joe Johnson for their scoring. Johnson had scored 20+ points in six of the team's last seven games (all six were wins), but simply couldn't find the range from the perimeter and scored just 10 points in the loss. Josh Smith also struggled from the field, hitting just 6-17 shots while also committing three turnovers. On a positive note, Kirk Hinrich returned to the lineup after missing the first 18 games while recovering from offseason surgery on his left shoulder, and made a good impression with 7 points on 3-4 shooting.
As for the Spurs, they shared the ball extremely well on the night. The 52.1 percent shooting may have boosted the assist total to 29, or vica versa, but what's the point in arguing causality when everything went so well. Tim Duncan only posted 6 points and 11 rebounds, and Tony Parker hit a quiet 15 points, but five other Spurs players hit better than half their attempts to provide a steady stream of scoring to fuel their second half run and seal the victory.
The Hawks fell to 13-6 with the loss and have not won on the road in San Antonio since Tim Duncan entered the league in 1997. Their five-game road trip rolls on as they try to rebound against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night. Meanwhile, the Spurs improved to a league-best 10-1 at home and 12-7 overall. San Antonio will be looking to secure a three-game winning streak when they open against the Minnesota Timberwolves on their three-game road trip.