SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Trae Young was practically unstoppable in the fourth quarter, but his defensive stop made the biggest impact against the San Antonio Spurs.
Young scored a season-high 45 points and drew a charge from Jeremy Sochan with 2.7 seconds left as the Atlanta Hawks handed the Spurs their 13th straight loss with a 137-135 victory on Thursday night.
“Trae taking a charge at the end of the game, it’s a big-time play,” Atlanta coach Quin Snyder said. “Just a hell of a play by Trae. It overshadowed what was a stellar offensive night.”
Sochan matched his career high with 33 points and Victor Wembanyama had 21 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks for San Antonio, but it wasn’t enough thanks to Young’s play against Sochan.
“I knew he was going to try to get to the basket, it was a transition play,” Young said. “I was the only one back. I could only foul him or try to take a charge. So, I just slid over and tried to take a charge. Just one play, that was a big play for us but we all also made a lot of plays.”
The Spurs fell to 3-15 for the first time since Dec. 8, 1996. That poor start led to the dismissal of Bob Hill by then general manager Gregg Popovich, who stepped in to start his current 28-year run as San Antonio’s coach.
Young had 13 points in the fourth quarter, going 3 for 5 from the field and 7 for 8 on free throws to seal the win and snap the Hawks’ two-game skid.
“You get to fourth quarters, the great players take over and that’s been difficult for us,” Popovich said. “Trae had his way.”
Atlanta guard Dejounte Murray had 24 points and five steals in his third game against his former team. Bogdan Bogdanovic added 14 points.
Devin Vassell added 25 points and Keldon Johnson had 22. Sochan was 11 for 13 from the field but couldn’t lead the Spurs to their first win since consecutive victories over Phoenix on Oct. 31 and Nov. 2.
The Spurs dominated early behind Wembanyama, leading by as many as 15 points in the first half. San Antonio made its first six attempts in taking a 16-7 lead four minutes into the game.
Wembanyama was questionable to play with a tightness in his right hip, but the Spurs announced he was available 90 minutes prior to tip-off.
“We’re trying to protect him,” Popovich said. “He may not play tomorrow (at New Orleans). We’ll see how his hip came out of this one.”
There were no signs of soreness as Wembanyama scored eight points in that opening burst. He first bulled past Clint Capela for a layup and a foul and then drained a 3-pointer. Capela blocked Wembanyama’s next attempt to push past him, but the rookie regained possession and made a short jumper off the glass.
“Talented,” Murray said of Wembanyama. “Everything I heard about him was how much he works, gets his rest, he’s not out partying, and he really wants to be great. He’s with a great organization. I think they should be lucky to have somebody like that as well with his character at such a young age and his work ethic.”
Atlanta committed 19 fouls through the first three quarters but only had six in the fourth while limiting San Antonio to seven free throws in the period. The Spurs finished 21 for 23 on free throws.
“It’s a very good offensive team,” Wembanyama said. “There are many things we need to guard. To be honest, we still need to be 100% focused on the scouting report for the whole game. At the end, we suffered from it.”
Murray entered the game averaging 20.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists against the team that selected him with the 29th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
Spurs veteran Doug McDermott missed the game due to an undisclosed illness. McDermott will have his jersey retired Saturday by Creighton University. McDermott was a three-time All-American while playing for the Blue Jays from 2010-14.
Hawks: At Milwaukee on Saturday.
Spurs: At New Orleans on Friday.