Atlanta has now lost 17 straight games in San Antonio following a 94-92 loss Wednesday night. Each of the last three defeats have come by just two points.
DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap led the Hawks (1-2) with 17 points apiece. Millsap added seven rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker led the Spurs with 17 points apiece.
The Hawks, who trailed by as many as 17 points, had a final chance the closing seconds. However, the Spurs pressured them into a desperation attempt from much too far out.
“We got better tonight,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Here are five observations from the loss:
1. The Hawks found themselves deep in a hole early with a poor-shooting first quarter. They shot just 29.2 percent (7 of 24) from the field. That included slow starts from Jeff Teague (0 of 4), Al Horford (1 of 5) and Millsap (1 of 4). The Spurs, by stark contrast, shot 61.1 percent (11 of 18) in the opening period. The Spurs led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter and 17 points in the first half. The Hawks battled all the way back and took a brief fourth-quarter lead before falling short.
“Everybody wants to talk about the fourth quarter but the reality is sometimes games are won in the first quarter,” Kyle Korver said.
2. It wasn’t a warm welcome back to San Antonio for Budenholzer – especially from the officials. The Hawks were called for 10 more fouls (25-15) than the Spurs led at by a wide margin in free-throw attempts (38-11). The epitome of the disparity came with 3:31 left in the second quarter. With the Hawks on a fast break following a steal, Teague was called for an offensive foul against Manu Ginobili. His crime? He tried to jump over the fallen Ginobili to catch up with the Hawks’ fast break. Teague’s foot caught Ginobili in the face and the call was somehow upheld after a video review.
Ginobili would hit five key free throws down the stretch. He made three with 1:01 left after he was fouled by Korver on a 3-point attempt on a close call. He hit the winning two free throws with 3.6 seconds left when a foul, again questionable, was called on Korver on a drive to the basket.
3. Interesting move to give Dennis Schroder most of the minutes at backup point guard – especially late. Schroder played 8:11 and finished with nine points, his first of the season. He was 4 of 6 from the field and added two rebounds and one assist. Schroder had a highlight dunk in the fourth quarter – over Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard – with 7:59 left that pulled the Hawks to within a point at 77-76. Schroder joked before training camp that we wanted to prove he could dunk this season. He did it with authority.
“I thought Dennis was very good tonight,” Budenholzer said. “… It was a nice boost off the bench by Dennis.”
4. Thabo Sefolosha has yet to find his offensive groove with the Hawks but his defensive presence has been noticeable. Sefolosha played 17 minutes and had four points, all from the free-throw line, four rebounds, two blocks and was a plus-6.
5. Rebounding was again an issue for the Hawks. They have been out-rebounded in all three games this season. The deficit to the Spurs was 50-37. The Spurs held a 39-27 edge in defensive rebounds as they held the Hawks to just one shot on many occasions, especially in the first half.