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PREVIEW: San Antonio Spurs seek more road success at Atlanta Hawks

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Feb 9, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan (10) looks to pass as Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins (22) defends in the first quarter at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs, who have won three of their last four, hope to continue their success on the road when they begin a seven-game trip with a stop in Atlanta on Friday.

San Antonio starts the voyage after a 114-91 loss to Golden State on Tuesday, but the Spurs had won their previous three and six of their last eight overall games. The Hawks, who lost to the Dallas Mavericks 118-117 on Wednesday, have dropped four of their last five.

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This will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Atlanta swept the two-game series a year ago for the first time since the 1996-97 season.

San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan has always been a difficult assignment for the Hawks. He averages 20.1 points against Atlanta and scored 47 in the two meetings last season. DeRozan is averaging 20.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He scored 30 points in back-to-back games last week against Minnesota and Houston, but managed only 12 in the loss to Golden State.

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San Antonio is a solid 7-3 on the road this season.

It is uncertain whether the Spurs will be at full strength. They played without starters Derrick White and LaMarcus Aldridge in the loss to the Warriors. Aldridge has a sore hip and has missed four straight games; he got a shot on Tuesday and will be re-evaluated. The Spurs didn’t want to use White on back-to-back nights as he returns from foot surgery in January.

Devin Vassell, the Spurs’ No. 1 draft pick, made his first career start against the Warriors in relief of White He had six points and six rebounds and only one turnover in 24 minutes in relief and drew compliments from his teammates.

“He understands when he messes up and how to correct it,” DeRozan said. “He’s learning a lot on the fly, having no summer league and really no summer to understand the NBA and the game at this level. Everything is still moving in fast motion.”

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The Hawks continue to be led by Trae Young, who averages 26.6 points and 9.5 assists. He had 25 points and 15 assists on Wednesday.

Atlanta is enjoying a timely offensive revival from John Collins.

Collins has scored 30-plus points in two of the last four games and raised his scoring average to 18.5 points. He had 33 points against Dallas, giving him 68 points in two games against the Mavericks. Over his last seven games, Collins is averaging 23.4 points and shooting 61.7 percent (66 of 107).

Center Clint Capela got in early foul trouble against Dallas and had only seven rebounds. That ended a personal-best streak of 19 straight games with double-digit rebounds, the most by an Atlanta player since Dwight Howard’s 19-game run in 2017.

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The Hawks blew a 13-point second-half lead in losing the Mavericks for the second time. They were outscored 37-27 in the fourth quarter.

“We’ve got to get stops,” Atlanta guard Kevin Huerter said. “It comes down to 37 points in the fourth quarter.”

Huerter’s offense has picked up, too. He scored 23 against the Mavs and is averaging 19.8, 4.5 assists and shooting 53.6 percent (15 of 28) on 3-pointers over the last four games.

–Field Level Media