Trae Young starts strong, scores 36 points as Hawks beat Wembanyama-led Spurs, 109-99

Wembanyama had nine dunks while scoring 26 points with 13 rebounds in his return after sitting out against Chicago.

ATLANTA — Trae Young sank his first six 3-point attempts to spark Atlanta’s hot-shooting start and the Hawks bounced back from their worst offensive game of the season to beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-99 on Monday.

Young scored 36 points, passing 10,000 for his career, with 13 assists. Dejounte Murray, the former Spurs guard who has been discussed in trade deadline speculation, had 13 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.

The Hawks had lost two straight and four of five, including an ugly 127-99 home loss to Washington, the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference, on Saturday night. Atlanta shot a season-low 34% from the field against the Wizards but regrouped with a strong start against the Spurs, the last-place team in the West.

The Hawks opened the second period with 11 unanswered points to lead 46-16. Atlanta extended the lead to 35 points, 69-34, at halftime. After making 10 of 14 shots from the field in the first half, Young made only 1 of 10 after halftime, helping the Spurs close to within six points, 99-93.

Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio’s 7-foot-3 rookie, sparked the comeback attempt. Wembanyama had nine dunks while scoring 26 points with 13 rebounds in his return after sitting out the second game of a back-to-back in a 122-116 loss to Chicago on Saturday. The Spurs have handled the No. 1 pick with caution after he suffered a sprained ankle on Dec. 23 in Dallas.

Jeremy Sochan had 23 points for the Spurs. Julian Champagnie sank five 3-pointers and scored 15 points.

Sochan’s layup with 6:11 remaining trimmed Atlanta’s lead to 95-84. A dunk and free throw by Wembanyama pulled the Spurs to within seven points at 96-89.

Young scored 29 points in the first half and then did not score in the third period until his first of two free throws with 53.8 seconds remaining gave him 10,000 career points.

Jalen Johnson scored 16 points with 10 rebounds and six steals for Atlanta.

Each coach spoke of the significance of playing on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in King’s hometown.

“To be able to play on this day is an incredible honor to be able to celebrate Dr. King,” said Hawks coach Quin Snyder, who said, “obviously the significance of this day in this city is something really good and really good to be part of.”

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the holiday is “even more meaningful and appropriate because of the lack of leadership we seem to have in the world right now.”

Players for each team wore “Honor King” shirts during warmups.

Spurts: At Boston on Wednesday.

Hawks: Host Orlando on Wednesday.

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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