The last time the Atlanta Hawks walked into the city remembered for the Alamo and won a basketball game, Bill Clinton was President, our nation's biggest fear was the Y2K bug and a company named Google was an idea being researched by a couple of unknown guys in California. And -- oh yeah -- some guy named Tim Duncan was a highly touted draft prospect playing college ball at Wake Forest.
The Hawks have faced the San Antonio Spurs in Texas' third-largest city 12 times since their February 1997 matchup and each time, the result has been frustrating for Atlanta's basketball team -- they lost.
Atlanta (15-8) hopes to reverse the trend when they take on Duncan and the Spurs (18-3) on Friday night at the AT&T Center (8:30 PM, SportSouth, 97.9 FM). The Hawks are flying high into their matchup in San Antonio. They have won seven of their last eight games, including a big road win against the Orlando Magic and they boast the best road record in the Eastern Conference at 8-3.
Coach Larry Drew tinkered with the lineup in the Orlando game, moving Jason Collins to center, shifting Josh Smith to small forward, Al Horford to power forward and Marvin Williams to Joe Johnson's position at shooting guard. Smith has excelled at his temporary position, posting 19 points and 13 rebounds against the Magic before netting a season-best 34 in a 116-101 win over the New Jersey Nets.
The Spurs enter this one with the best record in the NBA and are one-half game ahead of the rival Dallas Mavericks in the Southwest Division standings. San Antonio brings a modest three-game winning streak into this Friday night battle, including a 111-94 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday. Golden State has dropped 25 straight to the Spurs in San Antonio in a streak that ironically also stretches back to February 1997.
Duncan is nearly averaging a double-double with 13.7 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, while Tony Parker has posted nearly 20 points per game at the AT&T Center.
Manu Ginobili has struggled in December, averaging just 13 points per game on 29-percent shooting from the field; but he has been a Hawks killer, posting 38 the last time the two teams met in Atlanta.