Spurs vs. Hawks Preview
Gameday - Jan. 25, 2012
More video: Danny Green
Joe Johnson is a big reason why the Atlanta Hawks are atop the Southeast Division.
He'll likely play a major role if they're going to beat the San Antonio Spurs on the road for the first time in 15 years.
The Hawks will try to keep rolling behind another big effort from Johnson on Wednesday night when they face the Spurs for the only time this season.
Johnson leads the Hawks (13-5) with 19.1 points per game, but that total has jumped to 22.9 during a 6-1 run that has put Atlanta in first place in the division. The five-time All-Star is averaging 25.3 points in those six victories.
The swingman came up big again Monday, scoring half of his season-high 28 points in the fourth quarter in a 97-92 win at Milwaukee to open this five-game trip.
"He has been money," coach Larry Drew said. "He's a guy we rely on a lot particular in those situations. He was really in a rhythm."
The Hawks could use another strong performance from Johnson against the Spurs (11-7).
They've dropped 13 in a row at San Antonio, dating back to a win at the Alamodome on Feb. 15, 1997. Atlanta hasn't been much better in its last 25 overall meetings since, going 4-21 after dropping both matchups last season.
Johnson shouldn't shoulder much blame for those struggles since he's averaging 23.2 points and 4.3 assists in 11 games against San Antonio as a member of the Hawks.
Forward Josh Smith could also provide a difference for the Hawks after scoring 19 points while pulling down 13 rebounds with four assists and three blocks against the Bucks.
Atlanta may get a lift from Kirk Hinrich's potential return from left shoulder surgery. The guard is on the trip with the team, and could make his season debut. He averaged 8.6 points and 3.3 assists in 24 games with the Hawks after being acquired in a five-player trade from Washington last February.
The Spurs hope a brief return home can help them build on their momentum from a rare road win, Monday's 104-102 victory at New Orleans.
They're 9-1 at home compared to 2-6 on the road, but they'll open a three-game trip Friday against Minnesota after hosting the Hawks.
Tim Duncan is looking to build on his season-high 28 points against the Hornets after his running hook with 1.4 seconds left sealed the victory.
"It was a mix of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson - a kind of sky-hook, and we'll take it," guard Tony Parker said of Duncan's 13-foot game-winner.
Duncan is averaging 13.5 points and 7.3 rebounds on the season, and he has 21.4 points per game and 11.7 boards in the last 12 home meetings with Atlanta. However, he had just 12 points and four rebounds in a 108-92 win in the most recent matchup at AT&T Center on Dec. 10, 2010.
Parker is averaging 23.3 points and 11.3 assists over the past four games, as he continues to soften the blow from Manu Ginobili's absence due to a broken left hand.
"He's scoring for us, but he's finding players and involving everybody," coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's doing a great job of keeping us together."
Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.