Spurs Stand Tall Against Hawks
San Antonio 103, Atlanta 79
SAN ANTONIO, Nov. 15 (Ticker) -- Al Harrington was on his way to leading the Atlanta Hawks to a colossal upset. Unfortunately, there were still three quarters to play at the SBC Center.
Harrington scored just one point after the first quarter as the Hawks squandered a surprising 13-point lead and remained winless with a 103-79 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, who got 24 points from Manu Ginobili and 23 from Tim Duncan.
"The first quarter was really bad for us tonight," Ginobili said. "I think that is going to happen sometimes."
With center Rasho Nesterovic having trouble keeping up with the much quicker Harrington, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich put defensive specialist Bruce Bowen on him. The move panned out as Harrington added only a second-quarter free throw to his tally the rest of the way.
"Early on we had matchups that weren't very good on our part," Popovich said. "At the start of the second quarter we changed the matchups around and changed our defense up a little bit and it started to work well for us."
"They did a great job of fronting me and they always had somebody behind me as well after the first quarter," Harrington said. "I heard (Popovich) say he was 'tired of that guy getting off' and it was really tough to get anything one-on-one after that. They made some good adjustments and really took me out of the game."
However, the Hawks scored just 36 points over the next two periods as they joined Toronto as the only 0-7 teams in the NBA.
"We came out with some big-time energy, and we've been in that situation all year," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "They just had a great second quarter and closed that deficit. We still went in tied at the half. It's like they turned up the defense in the second and we stopped competing."
Coming off a 15-point loss at Washington on Saturday, San Antonio was eager not to fall again. The trio of Ginobili, Duncan and Tony Parker, who finished with 18 points, eight assists and three steals, made sure that didn't happen.
"When the other team scores 31 points in a quarter, you feel a little pressure because you know you have to score points to even things up," Ginobili said.
In the second period, Duncan scored 11 points, Parker 10 and Ginobili nine as the Spurs roared back to tie the game 52-52 at halftime.
The surge continued in the second half as San Antonio outscored Atlanta 24-15 in the third period and 27-12 in the final session to secure its 50th home win since the start of last season, including the playoffs.
"We just have to find a way to slow things down when the other team goes on a run like that," Harrington said. "It's like they score quick and we try to run it back up the court and then we end up settling for jump shots. Then all of a sudden we are down 15. It's almost like we started to panic and hurried our game."
"That's why they are the champs," Hawks guard Joe Johnson said. "They fought hard. (Popovich) made some adjustments and that really slowed us down and we never got back in rhythm."
The Hawks are at the other end of the spectrum. They had the worst record in the league last season and have lost 39 of their last 42 games.