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Jan 14, 2024 5:26 pm

Western Conference-worst Spurs could give Hawks a battle

Though the San Antonio Spurs have the worst record in the Western Conference, the host Atlanta Hawks can take nothing for granted when the teams meet on Monday afternoon.

The Hawks were thrashed 127-99 on Saturday by the Washington Wizards, a team that entered the contest with six wins. San Antonio has won only seven times but seems to be growing in confidence after a 122-116 loss in Chicago on Saturday night ended a two-game winning streak.

“This is the fifth game in a row where they’ve played like this and played well enough to win a game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Starting with Milwaukee then Cleveland (two close losses) and the two wins (Detroit and Charlotte) and tonight. We are showing more consistency. Down the stretch, experienced guys probably feel a little more comfortable shooting those 3s, but we had the same ones. Eventually they’ll fall.”

The Spurs led the Bulls by eight points in the fourth quarter when they went cold from the field. San Antonio missed seven of its last eight shots.

San Antonio is led in scoring by Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4 rookie who just celebrated his 20th birthday. He averages 19.4 points and 10.2 rebounds. Jeremy Sochan, the other 20-year-old in the starting lineup, went for 33 in the first meeting with Atlanta.

The Hawks have lost two straight since knocking off Philadelphia and dropped eight of their last 11.

“We have to regroup,” Atlanta coach Quin Snyder said. “Collectively I think we need to communicate. If there’s one thing to point to that’s not there, talking on the court, pointing … that can fix a lot of things.”

The problem against the Wizards was the lack of offense. The Hawks shot only 34.4 percent and saw their streak of scoring at least 100 points — the third longest in NBA history — end at 94 games.

“We didn’t have a quarter over 30,” guard Trae Young said. “That’s not like us. We didn’t score 100. That’s not like us. It was just one of those games.”

The Hawks were on the second night of a back-to-back against Washington and had been pushed to play a fast pace by Indiana on Friday. Atlanta’s legs were tired and the team showed little energy from the start of the game against the hungry Wizards.

“We played against a team that runs a lot and I guarantee you they knew that and they pushed the pace and were physical and pushed it right back to us,” Young said.

Young had his second straight subpar offensive game. He matched his season-low with 13 points against the Pacers and scored only 21 against the Wizards.

Young has been dealing with numerous nagging injuries, primarily a sore shoulder, that have affected his shooting. Over the last three games he is 17-for-58 (29.3 percent) from the field; he’s shooting 42.1 percent and averaging 27.2 points for the season.

This will be the final meeting between the Spurs and Hawks this season. Atlanta won the first contest 137-135 on Nov. 30 in San Antonio behind Young’s season-high 45-point performance, in which he also had 14 assists.

It will be the fourth leg of a five-game homestand for the Hawks, but that has not proven to be an advantage. Atlanta is only 6-11 on its home court.

–Field Level Media

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