Spurs looking to carry home success into Atlanta
The San Antonio Spurs carry a modicum of momentum, after wins at home over two of the top three teams in the Western Conference, as they travel to Atlanta to square off against the Hawks on Wednesday.
The Spurs (36-29) head to Atlanta after sweeping a three-game homestand, the final game of which was a down-to-the-last-shot 104-103 victory over Denver on Monday.
San Antonio led by 21 points early in the second quarter and by 18 early in the final period but had just enough to hold off the Nuggets. Denver had four chances to win the game in the final 29 seconds but failed, thanks to a rousing Spurs defense holding up when it was needed the most.
DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points in the win to lead San Antonio, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 22 points and a key block in the final seconds to help preserve the victory. Rudy Gay hit for 14 points, and Derrick White tallied 11 for Spurs, who have won seven games in a row at home.
Gay missed a pair of free throws in the final seconds that could have removed a lot of the stress from Denver's final possession, but made up for it on the defensive end.
"Two rebounds tipped off my hands, and missed two foul shots," Gay said about the final seconds of the game. "I felt like, man, if we lose this game, I'm going to be on suicide watch."
San Antonio's three straight home wins -- over Detroit, Oklahoma City and Denver, respectively -- followed a 1-7 road trip. Even though the Spurs are 11-22 away from home, DeRozan said Monday they are feeling good about their chances in Atlanta.
"We know that we can beat anybody in our league," DeRozan said. "We've got to have this same intensity, the way we play defense, talk, how we play offensively, on the road. That's kind of been our biggest struggle."
The Hawks (22-43) return home after a 114-113 loss at Miami on Monday. Kent Bazemore converted two free throws with 9 seconds remaining for Atlanta, but the Heat were able to run out the clock by playing keep-away with the ball as the Hawks tried unsuccessfully to foul and extend the game.
"Our guys had a gutsy effort and clawed their way back into the game," Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. "We just fell asleep at the end. We were just trying to steal-foul at the end and just couldn't get to their body. But it doesn't take away from the effort our guys had all night."
Vince Carter scored 21 points, all on 3-pointers, for the Hawks in the loss. Bazemore added 18 points, Trae Young racked up 14 points and eight assists, Dewayne Dedmon had 14 points and Kevin Huerter tallied 13 for Atlanta.
"I enjoy playing and competing, and in my mind it's just a playoff mentality," Carter said of his performance on Monday and his approach. "Whether we make it or not, I'm just giving our guys an idea about the preparation and the focus it takes at this time of the season. Our guys have responded well."
The Hawks lost two of three games during four-day span that included a quadruple-overtime defeat on Friday at home to Chicago.
Atlanta has not won consecutive contests since beating Phoenix and Washington on the road Feb. 2 and 4. The Hawks are eight games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings with 17 games to play.
Wednesday's game will be the first of two between the two teams this season. The Hawks beat San Antonio last season in Atlanta.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 5, 2019