Hawks face big challenge against healthy Spurs
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ATLANTA -- The San Antonio Spurs have been a problem for the Atlanta Hawks for years. And now they're getting healthy.
The Spurs have won 20 straight games against the Hawks in San Antonio, currently the longest active home win streak over another team. The Hawks are only slightly better at home, where they won last season but are 19-25 in Atlanta against the Spurs.
The teams meet for the final time this season on Monday at Atlanta's Philips Arena.
San Antonio (28-15) is coming off an emphatic 112-80 win over Denver on Saturday night. Davis Bertans came off the bench to score 18 points for the Spurs. The guard made a personal-best six 3-pointers against the Nuggets. He has 16 career games with three-plus 3-pointers.
It was only the sixth time this season that the Spurs had their projected starting lineup together. Only reserve Rudy Gay (bursitis in his right heel) was missing; he is also expected to miss the game against Atlanta.
"We haven't had many games with everyone healthy," San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge said. "It definitely felt good."
The Spurs are 6-4 over their last 10 games, but have alternated wins and losses over the last six. They have missed Danny Green, who returned against Denver after missing 10 games with a left groin issue. Kawhi Leonard, who missed 27 games with a right quad problem, strained his left shoulder on Jan. 5.
"(Leonard) looks confident in his body and he wasn't really winded," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's coming along well."
San Antonio is led by Aldridge, who averages 22.4 points and 8.5 rebounds, and Leonard, who averages 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Atlanta (11-31) is fresh off a 110-105 home loss to Brooklyn, which took the lead with 11 seconds left on a bucket by Spencer Dinwiddie. The Hawks have lost five of their last six -- four of those on their West Coast road trip -- and have the worst record in the NBA.
"As a competitor, you go out there and give it your all for 48 minutes," guard Kent Bazemore said.
Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder had a career-high 34 points against the Nets, but missed two late layups and turned the ball over with five seconds left. Schroder leads the team in scoring (20.1 points per game) and assists (6.6).
Atlanta played without guard Marco Belinelli on Friday. The veteran, who averages 11.8 points per game, was out with a sprained left ankle and will be revaluated on Monday morning.
The connections between the two clubs run deep. Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer worked as an assistant in San Antonio for 19 seasons, starting there as a video coordinator. Budenholzer adopted his philosophy of coaching on what he learned from Popovich. Hawks assistant Taylor Jenkins has his roots in San Antonio and served as the head coach for the organization's Developmental League team.
San Antonio won the first game 95-86 in San Antonio. Aldridge had 23 points and 11 rebounds and Kyle Anderson had a double-double (13 points, 10 assists) in the victory.
Updated January 14, 2018