Vince Carter knows how difficult it is to win in San Antonio because he has experienced it for 22 seasons.
Competing against the championship pedigree of the franchise, trying to tune out the frenzy of the sellout crowds at the AT&T Center and struggling to overcome the defensive pressure created by San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. It’s a good thing for Carter that his young teammates on the Atlanta Hawks weren’t thinking about that pressure.
Trae Young scored 31 points and Atlanta rallied from a 14-point deficit in the final quarter to stun the Spurs 121-120 on Friday night and snap a 21-game losing streak in San Antonio.
“It’s funny when you play a team like the Spurs, how tough it is to win here,” Carter said, “but I think we are so young, we had no idea. So, it was to our advantage.”
Second-year guard Kevin Huerter drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with 6.3 seconds remaining to complete the rally. DeMar DeRozan’s driving runner over three players bounded off the backboard and rim, and the final buzzer sounded before the rebound could be collected.
Atlanta won in San Antonio for the first time since Feb. 15, 1997, when the Hawks beat the Spurs 109-89.
“It’s crazy, I hadn’t even been born yet,” Hawks rookie Cam Reddish said.
Actually, six Hawks players hadn’t been born the last time Atlanta won in San Antonio, including Young and Huerter.
Reddish finished with 22 points, and Huerter and John Collins added 18 points each for Atlanta.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and DeRozan added 24 for San Antonio, which lost for the third time in four games.
San Antonio fell to Atlanta, who holds the league’s second-worst record at 10-32, after beating Milwaukee, Boston and Toronto recently.
Popovich said the Spurs weren’t solid down the stretch, something that has plagued them all season.
“Where, all of a sudden, the game plan goes to hell, people don’t execute and we played 24 minutes, in addition to that,” he said. “We did nothing in the first half but walk around. People should have left and asked for their money back after the first half. Second half, they competed, and they played to win, but we’ve just got to be more solid. Too many mistakes down the stretch and that’s what always seems to happen when we lose a basketball game.”
Aldridge fouled out with 1:09 remaining and the Spurs up 120-116.
Young had 12 points in the final quarter to help the Hawks rally after blowing a 13-point lead in the first half.
“I always have faith until the clock says zero,” Young said. “I always feel like we have a chance to win.”
San Antonio outscored Atlanta 41-21 in the third quarter, a point shy of matching their season high for the period. The Spurs had a 22-3 run during a four-minute stretch, holding the Hawks scoreless for 3:11 while taking a 94-79 lead. The run included Derrick White blocking Young’s layup attempt, which led to DeRozan driving for a layup and then a 3-pointer from Patty Mills.
Atlanta entered the final quarter trailing by 11, but closed to 110-106 following a 13-3 run fueled by the Hawks’ young core of Young, Reddish and Huerter, before completing the rally.
“That’s on us, strictly on us,” DeRozan said. “We can’t be mad at nobody else but ourselves. We gave one away tonight.”
Carter, making his final regular season appearance at the AT&T Center, had 14 points for Atlanta.
Hawks: Guard Jeff Teague was not with Atlanta after being acquired Thursday from Minnesota for Allen Crabbe. Teague, who spent his first seven seasons with the Hawks, rejoins Atlanta on Saturday against Detroit for the first time since 2016.
Spurs: Aldridge has 6,760 points with San Antonio, surpassing Larry Kenon (6,735) for seventh on the franchise’s career scoring list. Spurs assistant Tim Duncan leads the team with 26,496 career points. … The Spurs have a losing record for 66 days this season after spending just 65 days below .500 from 1997-1998 to 2018-2019. … Rudy Gay sat out for the first time this season, missing the game with an undisclosed illness.
San Antonio paid tribute to Carter, who is retiring after 22 seasons, with a 1 1/2-minute video followed by a standing ovation.
The video included Carter’s fallaway 3-pointer for Dallas in Game 3 of the 2014 first-round playoffs, which San Antonio won in seven games on its way to a fifth league title.
“It caught me off guard, I wasn’t prepared for it,” Carter said. “Didn’t know it was happening. I’ve had some good moments, great history with Coach Popovich and the team. I mean good and bad, but just as far as conversation (with Popovich) and us just interacting. It’s always been fun. For the organization to do something like this, it was nice. It was nice.”
Hawks: host Detroit on Saturday night.
Spurs: host Miami on Sunday night.