ATLANTA — San Antonio fans expect a steady diet of double-doubles from center Tim Duncan and now they’re starting to see a new outside scoring threat emerge in Australian Patty Mills.
The Spurs used the suddenly potent combination of Duncan and Mills to prey on the injury-depleted Atlanta Hawks and claim a 105-79 win on Friday night.
The 6-foot-11 Duncan had 17 points and 16 rebounds for his 17th double-double and Mills scored 18 points, including a career-best six 3-pointers.
“As a shooter, you have to think a little bit differently,” Mills said. “If you’re open, you have to shoot it. We got open shots because we moved the ball so well. When we move the ball and get open shots, we make shots. That’s a staple for us offensively.”
Mills, who averages 8.4 points this season, is averaging 15.3 in the last three games.
“(Mills) gave us a lot of energy coming off the bench,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Atlanta, playing without injured centers Al Horford and Pero Antic, had no answer for Duncan. The Hawks gave Gustavo Ayon his fourth start at center and tried to use veteran Elton Brand to help, but neither could do much defensively to slow Duncan.
The injury issue grew worse for Atlanta in the third quarter when point guard Jeff Teague was taken to the locker room after spraining his right ankle. He will not accompany the team on its road trip to Milwaukee and Oklahoma City. That leaves the position in the hands of Shelvin Mack and Williams, who is more comfortable as a shooting guard.
“It’s tough. We have to find a way,” Atlanta guard Kyle Korver said. “The teams we’re playing against aren’t going to feel sorry for us. As a team, we have to play better. We have to execute. We have to play with more energy. If we do that, we’re going to be fine.”
Atlanta (22-20) was led by forward Paul Millsap with 15 points and eight rebounds. Guard Lou Williams had 12 points and seven assists and guard Mike Scott scored 10. It was the lowest offensive night of the season for the Hawks, four points fewer than they scored in a loss to Houston on Jan. 10. The Hawks trailed by as many as 37 points in the fourth quarter.
San Antonio (33-10) also got 18 points from forward Boris Diaw and 11 points and seven assists from guard Tony Parker.
The Spurs entered the game having lost two of their last three but found a remedy for their malaise against the injury-depleted Hawks, who had only 10 available players and were without two starters.
The Spurs swept the season series against Atlanta, which is coached by former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer. San Antonio won the first meeting 102-100 on Dec. 2.
“They had a bad night. They’ve got too many guys hurt,” Popovich said. “It’s tough to compete that way. Even when Al (Horford) went down, they stuck with it and everybody filled in and did a good job. Now this happens to Jeff. There are too many good teams and too much talent in the NBA to lose guys of that caliber.”
The Spurs took control of the game in the first quarter with a 21-7 run after the Hawks grabbed their only lead at 7-6. Mills was 3 of 4 on 3-pointers in the quarter for nine points as San Antonio shot 52.2 percent from the field in taking a 27-14 lead.
“It was a good performance by San Antonio,” Budenholzer said. “They did a lot of things well. It wasn’t a good night for us on either end. I’m mostly concerned about our group putting this in the rear-view mirror and moving forward and getting ready to compete going forward.”
NOTES: Atlanta G Kyle Korver made a 3-point field goal in his 111th consecutive game to extend his NBA record. Korver removed the suspense when he converted his first 3-point try with 6:15 left in the second quarter. … Atlanta F/C Pero Antic will be out two to four weeks with a stress fracture in his right ankle. The rookie from Macedonia suffered a mild ankle sprain against the Brooklyn Nets in London on Jan. 16. He continued to play when x-rays were negative but experienced pain. An MRI on Thursday revealed the stress fracture and the foot was placed in a protective boot. … Atlanta F DeMarre Carroll is listed as day-to-day with an irritated left hamstring. Carroll left Thursday night’s game in the third quarter with the injury. … Retired Atlanta Braves slugger Chipper Jones was in attendance on Friday night. … Atlanta plays two of its next three on the road, starting with a game at Milwaukee on Saturday. San Antonio plays again Sunday at Miami, the second of three straight road games.
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