ATLANTA (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge and Derrick White provided quite a 1-2 punch for the San Antonio Spurs.
Aldridge scored 32 points and White made one big play after another down the stretch to help the Spurs pull away for their fourth straight victory, 111-104 over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.
“Derrick and LA were special,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team tightened its grip on the final playoff spot in the West.
While Aldridge knocked down 11 of 16 shots, White really stood out in the closing minutes. He scored seven straights points, putting San Antonio ahead to stay with a three-pointer before hitting two straight shots in the lane for a 98-93 lead. Finally, with the Hawks desperately needing a stop, White zipped a pass to Aldridge under the basket for a lay-in that sealed the victory.
“I was just trying to make the right play,” White said.
The second-year guard finished with 18 points, nine assists and career-best six blocks, tying a franchise record for rejections by guard.
“Man, he played great,” Aldridge said. “Six blocks — I don’t know if I’ve ever had that many blocks as a big, so it’s kind of impressive. He just ran the offence, made the right reads. That’s just him. I don’t get surprised anymore. I’ve been a fan since day one.”
Trae Young led the Hawks with 24 points but made only eight of 24 shots, going 1 for 7 from beyond the arc with White in his face much of the night.
Atlanta was also hampered by the loss of Taurean Prince, who was ejected with 7:28 left in the third quarter after picking up two straight technical fouls. Scott Foster slapped Prince with a T at the end of a play, Prince said something else, and the referee quickly signaled that his night was done.
“If we had him in the second half, it would’ve been a totally different ballgame,” Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore said. “We had to shorten the bench a little bit.”
Atlanta’s Vince Carter also picked up a technical in the fourth for complaining loudly when he didn’t get the call on a drive to the basket.
John Collins returned to the Hawks lineup after missing three straight games with flu-like symptoms. He was limited to 25 minutes, but still scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.