Courtesy of SS&E
The San Antonio Spurs won their third consecutive Southwest Division title by beating the Atlanta Hawks, 99 – 97, on Saturday, April 6
The Spurs secured the victory without Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the line up. Parker is suffering from a neck injury and Ginobili, a hamstring strain. Tim Duncan, however, played like the classic superstar of old. He scored 31 points, grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked four shots and dished out three assists. It was Duncan’s fifth game scoring 30 or more points this season, and it was his thirty-fourth double-double of the season.
When asked about Duncan’s performance, Head Coach Gregg Popovich said, “Tim Duncan saved us. He is such a professional. We’re so lucky to have him here for as long as we have. He’s an ultimate professional and he rose above a lot to do it. We had some guys that haven’t played much that busted their butts.”
The victory wasn’t very pretty, but while a banged up Parker and Ginobili sat out, probably until the playoffs begin, other Spurs stepped up. Kawhi Leonard recorded his second consecutive game with 20 or more points, 23. He also pulled down six rebounds, and handed out four assists.
“Kawhi has been great with the guys being out. I think it’s good that we’re starting to make him more of a focal point in the offense because he can play on both ends,” said Spurs guard Stephen Jackson.
DeJaun Blair was a spark off the bench. He scored 11 points, recorded seven rebounds and had two assists. And not to be outshined, Matt Bonner blocked four shots, a career high for the Red Rockett.
Atlanta Head Coach Larry Drew decided to sit Hawks starters Al Horford, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith and Devin Harris because of the back-to-back schedule for the Hawks.
Bench players John Jenkins and Mike Scott combined for 55 points; Jenkins scored 23 and Scott had 22.
Fox Tech alum and current Atlanta Hawk Ivan Johnson scored 14 points. He also had the duty of guarding Tim Duncan.
“That is a match up isn’t it? Ivan is a guy that gives up a lot of inches, but Ivan is a competitor. He is going to take a challenge whoever he guards. He was up pressuring but Tim is still Tim,” said Drew of Johnson’s match up on Duncan.
The Spurs play again on Wednesday, April 10, in the Mile High City of Denver against the Nuggets. Tip-off is scheduled for 10:30 p.m.