The Atlanta Hawks will look to continue their ascent in the Eastern Conference standings when they host the reeling San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night.
It also will be the first time Hawks guard Dejounte Murray will face the Spurs following an offseason trade that brought him to Atlanta.
The Hawks have won three of their past five games, most recently a 116-107 home victory over the shorthanded Phoenix Suns on Thursday. Trae Young racked up 36 points and 12 assists in the victory, which allowed Atlanta to sweep the season series against the Suns and move back to the .500 mark as the Hawks sit in eighth place in the conference.
Thursday’s win came in the first game of a stretch in which the Hawks play seven of eight contests at home. Atlanta will play 16 of its final 26 regular-season games in its own arena.
Young scored 25 points in the second half on Thursday. Murray finished with 19 points while John Collins added 16, Onyeka Okongwu collected 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Clint Capela pulled down 17 rebounds in the victory, which snapped a two-game losing streak for the Hawks.
Atlanta had a 19-point lead midway through the third quarter but endured a sloppy final 18 minutes, eventually relying on Young and defense down the stretch.
“We’re going to need to be sharper than that,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “Nineteen turnovers in this game. Just playing loose with the basketball. We were able to score and do some good things, but we need to be sharper with our execution on both ends of the floor.”
Both Atlanta and Phoenix used only nine players Thursday as the teams awaited the completion of trades. Atlanta will be bolstered on Saturday by the addition of Garrison Mathews and Bruno Fernando, acquired in a deal with the Houston Rockets, and Saddiq Bey, garnered in a trade with the Detroit Pistons.
“So looking forward to getting these guys in and integrating them with our system,” McMillan said.
Saturday’s game will be the second of a road back-to-back for the Spurs, who are three contests into their season-long nine-game trip. San Antonio saw its losing streak extend to a season-high-tying 11 games with a 138-131, double-overtime setback in Detroit on Friday.
San Antonio was playing its first game since acquiring Devonte’ Graham from the New Orleans Pelicans and Khem Birch from the Toronto Raptors. Graham flourished just hours after joining San Antonio, scoring a season-high 31 points, the most ever by a Spurs’ player in his debut.
“Devonte’ showed what he can do,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “You know, he’s a scorer, he’s a shooter. And just walking in the gym and playing with four guys he never played with before — I thought he was wonderful.”
Zach Collins added 29 points and Malaki Branham had 27, both career highs, with Keita Bates-Diop contributing 15 points in the defeat. Collins also had 11 rebounds and Stanley Johnson 10.
The Spurs played on Friday without starters Keldon Johnson (ankle), Tre Jones (foot), and Jeremy Sochan (back).
Popovich said he couldn’t have asked for anything more from his makeshift lineup.
“It was a great effort by a team with a couple guys who just got here,” Popovich said. “It’s a game of mistakes. We made mistakes. (Detroit) made mistakes, but a hell of an effort by a lot of guys trying to do the best job they could.”
–Field Level Media