“We want to win all of these games at home and give ourselves an edge before that long road stretch coming up,” Duncan said. “It’s important for us to take care of business at home now and worry about the road later.”
The Spurs never trailed but could not put away the Hawks until the fourth quarter. Atlanta stayed relatively close most of the way but could not recover after San Antonio scored seven points in the first minute of the final period.
“We did a great job of fighting through a lot of the runs tonight,” Atlanta coach Terry Stotts said. “However, we just couldn’t fight back from the run in the fourth. To take it from nine to 16 points shows how crucial it is for us to fight through those runs.”
Steve Kerr hit a 3-pointer with 11:11 left that gave San Antonio a 78-62 lead. Duncan hit two free throws 23 seconds later to cap a 9-0 run.
“I am disappointed that we couldn’t finish out the fourth quarter,” said Hawks forward Glenn Robinson, who had nine points and 10 rebounds after missing four games with an irritated elbow. “But we have to put this game behind us and look forward to getting back at home and playing more consistent throughout the whole game.”
San Antonio grew its lead to 20 points in the final period, enough of a cushion to hold off Atlanta down the stretch. The Hawks closed within nine points in the final two minutes.
Spurs rookie Emanuel Ginobili scored 11 of his season-high 13 points in the fourth quarter.
“In the last four or five games, he’s played well every game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s feeling more comfortable.”
“He’s exciting to watch,” Duncan added. “You never know what he’s going to do. He played great tonight and he is making the most out of the opportunities he’s getting.”
Tony Parker added 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting for San Antonio, which avenged a loss at Atlanta on December 27. That was the debut game for Stotts, who has lost nine of 11 games since.
“This is a good win, especially after a tough loss at the buzzer against these guys last time,” Parker said.
San Antonio outscored Atlanta in every quarter.
“It was a good game, we focused well,” Popovich said. “We played good defense and executed on offense. It was a good night.”