The San Antonio Spurs are enjoying their longest winning streak of the season. If previous history is any indicator, they shouldn’t have much trouble extending it.
The defending NBA champions shoot for their seventh straight victory when they visit the hapless Atlanta Hawks, a team they’ve beaten 12 of the last 14 times.
San Antonio beat Boston 101-89 on Friday, marking the 17th consecutive time they’ve beaten the Celtics. The Spurs, who own the best record in the Western Conference, have not lost since falling 106-99 to the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 25.
Tim Duncan, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds, wasn’t quite satisfied with his team’s most recent performance. San Antonio led by as many as 16 in the third quarter, but gave up several double-digit leads.
“We played well for the majority of the time,” said Duncan, who was averaging 21.2 points per game coming in, ranking eighth in the conference. “We had a little bit of ups and downs—a little more than we wanted to.”
The Spurs were allowing just 89.7 points per game coming in, ranking fourth in the league. They had a season-high 11 blocked shots Friday—six by Rasho Nesterovic and the other five by Duncan.
The Spurs also improved to 15-0 when leading after three quarters.
“The blocked shots are the consequence of our defensive system,” said Manu Ginobili, who scored 14 points. “We were trying to make some of (the Celtics) penetrate and we always want the bigs to defend them.”
The Hawks are off to the worst start in team history. They opened 3-15 last season. Their only wins this season came in consecutive games against Boston and Indiana, respectively, from Nov. 23-25.
Atlanta ranked second to last in the Eastern Conference with just 90.4 points per game and third-to-last with 99.6 allowed heading into Friday’s games.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 9): Spurs - 1st place, Southwest Division. Hawks - 5th place, 7 GB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Spurs - Duncan, 21.1 ppg and 12.1 rpg; Parker, 5.9 apg. Hawks - Johnson, 18.2 ppg and 5.1 apg; Pachulia, 9.3 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Spurs, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 15; Spurs, 103-79. At San Antonio, Duncan had 23 points and seven rebounds and Ginobili added 24 points.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Spurs - 7-2 on the road; Hawks - 1-6 at home.