Spurs-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 19, 2013
Already struggling to win on the road, the San Antonio Spurs are set to embark on a brief trip without Manu Ginobili. If last season's matchup with Atlanta and Tony Parker's recent performances there are any indication, the Spurs might overcome Ginobili's absence when they visit the potentially short-handed Hawks on Saturday night. San Antonio (31-11) has won 12 of 15 and extended its win streak to three in its second game without Ginobili on Friday. Parker had a team-best 25 points, including three of his team's final four baskets, while Tim Duncan scored 24 in a 95-88 home win over Golden State. Ginobili is expected to miss another five to 10 days because of a strained left hamstring and likely won't be around to help his team try to improve on a 2-7 record in its last nine road games. The Spurs are averaging 98.0 points in their last nine road contests after averaging 107.5 in starting 11-2 away from San Antonio. "We've got to be better on the road. We haven't been too good in the last however many games out there," Duncan said ahead of a two-game trip that ends Monday against Philadelphia. "We're trying to clean that up and hopefully we'll keep it going (Saturday)." A visit to Atlanta could help as San Antonio has won 22 of the past 26 matchups and four of its last five games at Philips Arena. In the only meeting between the teams last season, the Spurs routed the visiting Hawks 105-83 while Ginobili sat out with a broken hand. Duncan only had six points in that game, but Matt Bonner and Tiago Splitter helped out with a combined 33 off the bench while starter DeJuan Blair chipped in another 17. Parker led the way with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting in San Antonio's most recent visit to Atlanta, a 97-90 victory on April 5, 2011. He's averaging 33.0 points on 67.2 percent shooting in his last three games there. The Spurs might have a better chance to add to their recent dominance over the Hawks (22-17) if Al Horford and Lou Williams have to sit out. Horford missed Friday's 94-89 loss in Brooklyn because of a sore hamstring and calf, and Williams had to leave in the second quarter after spraining his right knee. Williams, who is third on the team in scoring at 14.1 per game, was expected to have additional tests. In their absences, Jeff Teague topped 20 points for the second straight game with 21 and recorded his second double-double in as many contests with 10 assists. Josh Smith missed 10 of 15 shots and finished with 12 points in his return from a one-game team suspension. "I thought particularly my guys, they really hung in there, particularly after we lost Lou Williams in the first half. We were already short-handed with no Al Horford. It made it even tougher losing Lou," coach Larry Drew said. "I thought our guys came out, I thought they played hard. We did some good things, we did some not so good things. But the energy was there. The effort was there." Smith, who averages a team-best 16.4 points, is averaging 10.7 on 31.0 percent shooting in his last three games. It seems unlikely he'll break out of his funk against the Spurs considering in 13 career matchups, he's averaging 9.1 points on 29.2 percent shooting - by far his worst marks in each category.
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