T. Duncan (SAS): 17 pts, 16 reb, 2 ast, 4 blk
P. Millsap (ATL): 15 pts, 8 reb, 2 ast, 4 stl, 2 blk
[FULL BOX SCORE]
Both teams were missing key players due to injuries. Al Horford, DeMarre Carroll, and Pero Antic were out for the Hawks and Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Tiago Splitter were sidelined for San Antonio. Both coaches lamented the injuries beforehand, but it appeared like the teams should have been closely matched.
It didn’t work out that way.
San Antonio stormed out to a 27-14 first quarter lead, largely thanks to three threes hit by Patty Mills off the bench in that quarter.
“Coming off the bench,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich about Mills, “he really made the spread for us.” Mills finished the game with six threes and 18 points.
Tim Duncan also played a key role defensively in the first quarter, blocking two shots, which doesn’t begin to show his total impact in the quarter. The Hawks shot 6-for-20 from the field, spearheaded by Paul Millsap’s 1-for-6 effort.
Bad things continued to compound for the Hawks, as Jeff Teague left the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He did not return and will not travel with the team for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee. Teague had been the team’s only bright spot up to that point, scoring nine points on 4-for-7 shooting from the field.
“It’s tough,” said Kyle Korver on Teague’s injury. “We have to find a way. The teams we’re playing against aren’t going to feel sorry for us.”
Without Teague, the Hawks’ offense looked lost against the Spurs’ Duncan-anchored defense. The 79 points and 18 assists were both season lows for Atlanta, who came into the game ranked 12th in points per game and first in assists per game.
“[Teague’s] a big part of what we do,” said coach Mike Budenholzer. “we hope that Jeff recovers quickly. I’m sure [Shelvin Mack, Lou Williams, and Dennis Schröder] will do everything they can in his absence.”
If they do, they will need to play better than they did in this game. Williams had 12 points on 11 shots and Mack had one of his worst games of the season.
“I’m just going to try to come in and play my game,” said Mack, “just do what I’ve been doing minus tonight.”
“Shelvin will have to step up,” explained Korver. “He’s very capable of that.”
Just how capable? Mack was averaging 14.4 points and 6.8 assists on only 2.1 turnovers per 36 minutes going into this game, which are numbers that compare very well with what Jeff Teague has been doing this season. Mack has had a stretch recently where he was arguable out-playing Teague, meaning that the Hawks could probably survive Teague being sidelined for a couple of games. More than that, though, and it will start getting very dicey for Mike Budenholzer’s ball club.
Other notes: Mike Scott’s 10 points for the night gave him at least 10 points in a career-high seven straight games. Kyle Korver extended his three-point streak to 111 games. And to cap it off, the Hawks shot a season-worst 15.4% (2-for-13) from behind the arc.
No reaction grades tonight. They would all just be a mixture of low scores and sadness.
Next: Atlanta at Milwaukee, Saturday, January 25th