Aldridge helps Spurs hold off Hawks
SAN ANTONIO — When San Antonio needed LaMarcus Aldridge to step up on Monday in the final minutes of a close game against the Atlanta Hawks, the Spurs’ leader jumped at the chance and took charge.
Aldridge scored 22 points and hauled in 11 rebounds to lead four players in double-figure scoring as the Spurs defeated the Hawks 96-85 at the AT&T Center.
Eighteen of Aldridge’s points came after halftime, and 12 of those were in the fourth quarter.
Maybe it’s time to stop considering Aldridge just a seat-holder for the Spurs while star forward Kawhi Leonard works his way back onto the court from a quad injury. If there’s been one thing that’s been consistent about San Antonio this season, it’s been the game-in-and-game-out production by Aldridge.
The Spurs led 84-79 with 3:34 to play before Danny Green poured in 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to push the advantage to 11 points.
Consecutive baskets by Aldridge salted away the game for San Antonio (11-6), which continues its early-season success despite the absence of Leonard and point guard Tony Parker (quad), neither of whom has played one minute this season.
Manu Ginobili added 16 points for San Antonio, with Green and Kyle Anderson contributing 14 and 13 points, respectively, in the Spurs’ second straight win.
San Antonio had 29 assists (including a career-high 10 by Anderson) but also had 18 turnovers, a statistic that riled Ginobili.
“We were inconsistent — we played with intensity and hustled and scrambled but there are a lot of things we can do better,” Ginobili said. “There are some teams that you can get away with a win with the turnovers we had tonight, but most will not. We are still working to be at our best.”
Rookie center John Collins led the Hawks (3-14) with 21 points off the bench while Taurean Prince hit for 18, Dennis Schroder scored 14 and Marco Belinelli and Dewayne Dedmon added 11 points each for Atlanta, which dropped its second straight game.
“It’s the same story — it comes down to us playing a complete game,” Collins said. “We do a good job of playing three quarters, staying in the game, fighting, competing, and then something happens in the fourth. For sure it’s frustrating, because we’ve shown we can play with anybody.”
The Spurs led by as many as 14 points in the first half, which featured four ties and six lead changes before San Antonio settled for a 46-38 advantage at the break.
“Some people moved the ball and then held it, so that part of our game was pretty inconsistent overall,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “(Atlanta) stayed in the game — they always do. Their record doesn’t show it, but the way they played tonight, they play every night. They come at you, they compete, they share the basketball — they do all the right things.”
Ginobili paced San Antonio with eight points off the bench on 4-of-4 shooting while Prince led all scorers with 11 points, including the final four points of the half.
Atlanta cut the Spurs’ lead to one point five separate times in the third quarter but could never move to the lead. Anderson’s jumper with four seconds remaining staked San Antonio to a 70-65 lead heading into the final quarter.
“This is a place where you are challenged,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “The execution and understanding of everything has to go to another level when you are playing really veteran-type teams on the road. It’s a good opportunity to get better and I think our guys are doing that.”
NOTES: San Antonio is one of just two teams in the NBA (the Kings are the other) with only one player averaging 12-plus points per game: LaMarcus Aldridge, 22.3. Its next highest scorer is Rudy Gay at 11.8. ... Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer spent 19 seasons as an assistant coach with San Antonio. ... Hawks G Taurean Prince is a San Antonio native. ... Spurs C Pau Gasol was originally selected by Atlanta (third overall) in the 2001 NBA Draft before his rights were dealt on draft night to Memphis. ... Atlanta F Luke Babbitt left the game in the third quarter with lower back pain and did not return. ... Next up for San Antonio is a road game in New Orleans on Wednesday while the Hawks head home to play the Los Angeles Clippers, also on Wednesday.