Ginobili, Spurs hold off HawksDec 11, 2008 - 5:44 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- It was not as easy it appeared it would be early, but the San Antonio Spurs won their fourth straight with a 95-89 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
Two technical fouls called on Atlanta with 3:27 left in the game may have been the tipping point the Spurs needed to finish off the Hawks.
Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with a season-high 27 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and Tim Duncan finished with 19 and 11 rebounds.
"It wasn't the smoothest game," said a fatigued Tim Duncan after a back-to-back that featured a double-overtime win against Dallas on Tuesday. "But we played well enough to win."
Despite holding multiple double-digit leads throughout the game, the Spurs could never finish off the Hawks until Ginobili took over late.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson, who led all scorers with 29 points, cut the Spurs' lead to 70-67 with 7:32 left in the game. After a timeout, a driving George Hill found Ginobili on the wing for a 3-pointer and a six-point cushion.
"When the shot is going in, everything comes easier," Ginobili said. "They start attacking the shot, giving me space to drive."
But a three-point play by Johnson with 4:00 left in the game trimmed the lead to 79-76.
Then, the Hawks fell apart mentally.
After Al Horford was called for a foul on Ginobili, Bibby and Horford were each hit with technical fouls. Ginobili sank both free throws and Duncan knocked in a short bank shot for a four-point possession and an 83-76 lead.
"Those two technical fouls really changed the momentum of the entire game," Hawks guard Flip Murray said. "After that, the Spurs were able to regain control of the game."
Bibby and Horford both felt the technicals were unwarranted, especially in a tight game. Bibby claimed he simply said, "Come on, man." Horford said he was asking Bibby a question, "What happened?" because he wasn't sure who the foul was called on.
"You don't want to see your players getting technicals in close games like tonight, but in the heat of the battle, anything's liable to happen," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said of the two technicals. "I guess I need to do a better job of policing that."
Ginobili seemingly sealed the game after going behind his back, between his legs and then stepping back for a 3-pointer over Maurice Evans with 2:13 left in the game to extend the Spurs' lead to 86-78. It was a move Duncan called "vintage Manu."
But even that wasn't enough as the Hawks stormed back again. Johnson's floater pulled the Hawks within two, but Ginobili came through again, this time driving hard at Horford in the middle of the paint and spinning on a dime for a layup that had just enough english on it to fall.
"Manu carried it for us tonight with big shots and free throws down the stretch," Duncan said. "He loves games like that. He loves those situations, and it's great to give the ball to a guy like that and let him create moves and shots."
Most of Ginobili's points came from behind the arc, where he was 5-of-7 and the Spurs were 10-of-20 as a team. In the most lopsided stat of the night, San Antonio outrebounded Atlanta, 52-27.
The Hawks jumped out to a 6-3 lead, but Ginobili connected from three to cap the Spurs' 17-2 run for a 20-8 lead with 3:43 left in the first.
"It was a slow start, and they had their way early," Woodson said.
Yet, every time it seemed San Antonio seized control, the Hawks kept clawing their way back into contention.
"We still had an opportunity to win it late, but slow starts are something we really need to work on as a team," Murray said. "We can't continue to start games the way we did tonight, especially against a team like the Spurs."
Midway through the second quarter, Ginobili hit another 3-pointer for a 14-point lead. But the Hawks forged an 11-2 run and trailed 36-31 with 2:14 left in the first half.
Roger Mason hit a 3-pointer and Matt Bonner scored four points, allowing San Antonio to carry a 43-35 lead into intermission.
After a Ginobili sweeping reverse layup, the Spurs held a 61-46 lead, but Atlanta again rallied, this time a 9-1 run to end the quarter and only trailed 62-55 entering the fourth.
SAN ANTONIO 95 FINAL
Dec 10 10:55 PM
SAN ANTONIO 62 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 10 10:17 PM
SAN ANTONIO 43 HALFTIME
Dec 10 9:36 PM
SAN ANTONIO 25 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 10 9:04 PM
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