SAN ANTONIO — The Hawks gave up eight 3-pointers in the third quarter, giving the Spurs plenty of confidence to erase a 24-point deficit. The Hawks (35-36) fell 126-118 on Sunday.

Here are five observations:

1. There was still plenty of time for the Hawks to regain their stride after guard Trae Young hit a floater at the third-quarter buzzer. They led 114-108 with 7:30 remaining, but the Hawks could not find the right shots and gave up several empty possessions.

They went 0-for-5 overall, while the Spurs’ Romeo Langford split a pair of free throws and Zach Collins hit a 19-foot jumper. Ninety seconds later, Keldon Johnson made a layup after the Hawks failed to get back in transition and Blake Wesley nailed a 3-pointer, giving the Spurs a 115-114 lead with 3:47 left.

“I think we have to feel the game,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “And there were some, some possessions offensively where we need to go from good to great, and really try to impose our will as far as what we want to have on those possessions. Because, they weren’t horrible shots, at all.”

2. The Hawks came out of the locker room after halftime without the intensity that helped them build a 22-point lead. After a dunk by Clint Capela in the first 30 seconds, the Spurs went on a 10-0 run.

The Hawks struggled to recover as the Spurs played quickly with the ball on the perimeter and found a hot hand in Devin Vassell. The Spurs forward made 4 of 5 attempts from deep, which gave his teammates confidence.

The Hawks ended up surrendering eight 3-pointers in the third quarter after allowing five in the first half.

“I think, if you allow it to,” Snyder said when asked if the 3-pointers in the third deflated the Hawks. “I think that’s the key is that, understanding we did everything on that possession and he made a shot, versus we could have done more. And, hopefully, you continue to try to do more.”

Vassell finished with 29 points after going 5-for-8 from 3-point range, with four of them coming in the third quarter.

3. Moving the ball with purpose and finding the open man allowed the Hawks to dominate the Spurs in the first half. Atlanta, which remained four games behind the Nets for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, delivered one of its best performances this season, scoring a season-high 83 points in the first half.

The Hawks made the Spurs work defensively, spreading the ball around the court to keep them off-balance. They torched in the paint in the second quarter as they attacked the middle, going 11-for-14 inside and drawing plenty of contact.

They were also effective with seven of their 14 jumpers coming from midrange.

4. Hawks guard Dejounte Murray got the team off to a strong start. He led all scorers by the end of the first half and also created opportunities for his team with seven assists. He finished with 22 points, six rebounds and eight assists.

It’s the uptick in efficiency Murray has been looking for lately. In his previous five games, he shot 34.2% from the floor as he tried to provide the team with some offensive juice.

But he’s quick to hold himself accountable for his inconsistency.

After the game, though, Murray said his return to San Antonio on Sunday provided him with some closure.

“It was a lot of emotions coming,” he said. “But more excited than emotions. I’m not a guy that really (cries) or anything like that. So I believe it was closure, for sure.”

5. The Hawks did not have Jalen Johnson, who missed the game with left hamstring tightness. Rookie AJ Griffin gave the team some valuable minutes in its strong first half.

Not only did he provide the Hawks with scoring but he also gave them plenty of disruptive play on defense. He finished with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Stat to know

14 – Capela drew his 14th charge of the season, the 10th-most charges by any player in the NBA this season.


“But I do think for us to be able to feel the difference between when we had the lead and when we didn’t, it’s pretty palpable as far as our level of play and the way we were playing.” – Snyder on the Hawks learning from their play between halves

Up next

The Hawks return to State Farm Arena to host the Pistons at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.