Despite several positives (and several not-so-positives), the Atlanta Hawks dropped their 3rd preseason game (and 1st at home) at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs by a score of 106-104 on Thursday night. With 3 seconds remaining, point guard Patty Mills found journeyman big man Aron Baynes for a floater to take a 2-point lead, and when Jeff Teague chose to kick the ball to Kyle Korver, the fate of the Hawks was sealed as the final attempt (which went begging at any rate) didn’t get off before the final buzzer.
Post-game, head coach Mike Budenholzer was quick to echo the sentiment that there were some positives, referencing the quality ball movement throughout the game (30 assists on 39 field goals), the strong pace, and the (mostly) solid defensive effort. However, the turning point on the scoreboard came in the 3rd quarter, when the Spurs used a 15-for-25 shooting outburst to put up 38 points in the 12-minute frame, and with that, they leapt to a 15-point lead they were able to hold on to. It wasn’t a cruise control victory for the Spurs, however, as the starters for Atlanta dominated the 4th quarter before the late rally fell short.
Kyle Korver led the way for Atlanta, scoring 26 points (on 10-15 FG, 5-8 3-point) in 34 minutes, and Jeff Teague chipped in admirably with a 15-point, 12-assist game. The starters all exceeded 30 minutes of floor time in the loss, and although Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll struggled offensively at times, it was a mostly effective night for the core guys.
However, that brings us to the bench, and the Hawks were absolutely decimated by the Spurs in that area. Mike Scott and Jared Cunningham each cracked double-digits for Atlanta (11 points each), but only Scott really stood out as an effective player off the bench, and the Spurs outscored the Hawks 61-26 from their reserves. It clearly wasn’t an “apples to apples” comparison, as the San Antonio bench played far more minutes, but in the end, they soundly outplayed the Hawks, and that’s a concern.
As far as training camp battles are concerned, neither Pero Antic or Royal Ivey saw the court for Atlanta. Antic seems to be 100% safe with a guaranteed deal and Gustavo Ayon on the shelf, but Ivey’s counterpart, Shelvin Mack, played 14 minutes of mostly non-disastrous court time, and that can’t be a positive for Ivey’s prospects. Elsewhere, Dennis Schröder and John Jenkins each sat for Atlanta, as Schröder was held out for a precautionary concern in his knee, and Jenkins was still missing on account of a pesky back issue.
It certainly isn’t a crime to lose to the San Antonio Spurs in a preseason game (especially when Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili all had it going at various points during the game), but it wasn’t all positive for the Hawks in this loss. Alas, preseason should be for “big picture” evaluation, and there was a lot to like here.