SAN ANTONIO — Atlanta Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer knows what to expect from San Antonio after spending 19 seasons working in the Spurs organization.
Even he was taken aback with how easily his former team handled Atlanta on Saturday night.
Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points and the Spurs won their fifth straight, holding the Hawks to several season lows offensively in a 108-88 victory.
Budenholzer said having nearly two decades of corporate knowledge was "obviously not" helpful in slowing down San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs.
"Defensively, a lot of it looks very similar," he said. "Offensively, they are constantly tinkering, constantly changing and evolving and doing different things. That's part of what makes the whole group and Pop unique. They are a very innovative and creative group."
San Antonio matched a season high with nine 3-pointers in winning its 18th consecutive home game against Atlanta and 10th straight overall against the Hawks.
Atlanta had season lows for points in any quarter (12 in the second), first-half points (37) and matched a season low for total points.
San Antonio has held 13 opponents under 100 points this season, including its past five.
"Usually we are a team that builds defensively, slowly," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "This year we started very well, very aggressively. The addition of LaMarcus (Aldridge) gives us more size. He has quick feet to switch, to get in a better position quicker."
Aldridge added 13 points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Aldridge was especially active early with eight points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in 10 minutes during the first quarter.
Tim Duncan had 10 points and 18 rebounds for San Antonio, which has won 11 of 12 and is unbeaten in nine home games.
Atlanta's starting five struggled to get a shot off against the hounding defense and long arms of Leonard, Aldridge, Duncan and Danny Green.
"The defense was the key," Popovich said. "I thought Tony Parker and Danny Green were great defensively on (Jeff) Teague and (Kyle) Korver. That really set a tone for us. Those guys are really hard to guard, but I thought that they took the challenge and did a good job tonight."
The Hawks' starters finished with 38 points. Reserves Mike Scott had 12 points and Kent Bazemore added 11. Al Horford led the starters with 10 points.
Atlanta was 5 for 18 in the second quarter and committed six turnovers as San Antonio went on an 18-2 run to take command of the game.
"There is really not much positive from us," Horford said. "For us as a team, the best thing is to put this behind us."
Hawks: Tiago Splitter, who sat out the game with a right hip injury, received a rousing ovation when he was shown on the midcourt video screens. Splitter played five seasons in San Antonio before being traded to Atlanta in the offseason in an effort to clear cap space to eventually sign Aldridge. ... Atlanta's previous low for points in any quarter was 18, which happened on three occasions.
Spurs: San Antonio has not lost at home to Atlanta since drafting Tim Duncan with the No. 1 overall selection in 1997. The Hawks' previous win in San Antonio came on Feb. 15, 1997, when Steve Smith scored a game-high 25 points in a 109-89 victory.
Duncan grabbed 13 defensive rebounds in 28 minutes.
"He's a guy we always sort of ignore," Popovich said. "He's been doing it for so long, we take him for granted. I just told those guys they played well, I didn't even know he got 18, I just ignored him again in the locker room. I have to go back in there now and tell him how good he was."
Green was not surprised by Duncan's heroics, referring to his 39-year-old teammate as a superhero. Which superhero, though?
"If he were to answer you, he'd probably tell you 'The Punisher,' " Green said. "I'd probably say 'Wolverine.' He heals pretty fast, he doesn't age. So, there you go."
After Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon showed Popovich a play on the whiteboard she was carrying, he directed the second-year assistant to run the team's huddle during a timeout in the second quarter as he stood behind and watched. The team listened intently and the ensuing play resulted in an Atlanta turnover.
"We are a participatory group," Popovich said. "Everybody gets involved."
PUT ME IN COACH
Bazemore, who was listed as probable with a sprained right ankle, shot 5 for 10 in 20 minutes. The 6-foot-5 guard wanted to play more, lobbying Budenholzer to let him back on the court with the Hawks trailing by 20 points in the fourth quarter.
"Kent always wants to play," Budenholzer said. "Whether it's a one-point game or a 20-point game, he wants to play. That's probably what makes him special."
Hawks: Host Oklahoma City on Monday.
Spurs: At Chicago on Monday.