ATLANTA (AP) -- Steve Smith doesn't have any hard feelings toward the Atlanta Hawks, though he could have fooled his old team Wednesday night.
Tim Duncan goes a mile high to score two of his 21 points over Shareef Adbur-Rahim.
Smith scored 29 points and the San Antonio Spurs, after building a 20-point lead in the first quarter, held on for a 120-112 victory over the Hawks.
"I was just trying to get a win," said Smith, who spent five season with the Hawks.
San Antonio, coming off a home game the previous night, hardly looked tired in the opening period. The Spurs dominated the Hawks with superb ball movement, setting up open shots all over the court.
"We weren't expecting to have this kind of start," Tim Duncan
The Spurs lived up to their billing as the best 3-point shooting
team in the league. San Antonio was 14-of-20 from beyond the arc to improve on an
already impressive 43.2 season percentage.
"They shot 70 percent from the 3-point line," Atlanta's Jason Terry said. "We were trading 2s for 3s all night. That's not going to get it."
Duncan and Bruce Bowen scored 21 points apiece. Bowen, a
defensive specialist, made all eight of his shots, including four
3-pointers, to eclipse his previous career high.
"If Bruce continues to play like that," Duncan said, "we will be tough."
The Hawks, who should have been the fresher team after a four-day break, were downright sloppy in the beginning, throwing away four passes in one 2½-minute stretch. Not surprisingly, they found themselves down 30-10 when Smith dunked at the end of a fast break with 2:39 remaining.
Fortunately for the Hawks, not many people saw their performance. The game was attended by just 8,253, the smallest crowd for an NBA game since Philips Arena opened in 1999.
"We've got to be more aware of the shooters, I guess," Terry said. "The defense is just killing us. We've scoring enough points to win."
Smith hit 12-of-20 shots, four of them from beyond the arc.
Bowen gave the Spurs a surprising offensive boost; he eclipsed his
season high with 13 points in the first period.
"When one guy gets hot, it opens up things for the others," Smith said. "You've got to give up something, either inside or outside."
The Hawks, who trailed by as many as 25, made a fourth-quarter
surge to get the margin into single digits. Little-used Mark
Strickland sparked Atlanta, finishing with nine points and 10
Antonio Daniels stymied the comeback when he sank a desperation
3-pointer from just inside half court with 1:33 remaining.
"It was a tale of two games," coach Gregg Popovich said. "We played pretty well in the first and then, like so many teams do, unfortunately, we seemed to park it to some degree."
Terry and Toni Kukoc each had 22 points to lead the Hawks.
Game notes Bowen's previous career high of 20 points came while
playing for Miami last season. Until Wednesday, he had not scored
more than 10 points for the Spurs. ... San Antonio's Terry Porter
and Atlanta's Jason Terry had a nasty collision late in the third.
Terry tried to block Porter on an inbounds pass and they collided
face-to-face. Porter went to the bench with towel over his
forehead, while Terry split his lower lip and had to come out until
the bleeding stopped. ... Popovich picked up a technical late in
the third for arguing a call with his team leading 97-81. ... The
Midwest Division-leading Spurs (13-4) improved to 7-0 against
Eastern Conference teams. ... San Antonio swept the season series
and has won seven in a row over the Hawks.