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

ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young sank his first six 3-point attempts to spark Atlanta's hot-shooting start and the Hawks overcame Victor Wembanyama's big second half to beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-99 on Monday.

Young scored 36 points, passing 10,000 for his career, with 13 assists.

The Hawks had to survive a late scare after holding a big lead of 35 points, 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.

“I think obviously we did a good job in the first half, the attention to detail and the focus we had was huge for us,” Young said. “In the second half, I just think we got too relaxed.”

Wembanyama, San Antonio’s 7-foot-3 rookie, sparked the comeback attempt. Wembanyama had nine dunks while scoring 26 points — all in the second half — with 13 rebounds.

Wembanyama gained momentum 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.

“Our team has learned they need to throw the passes,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich of Wembanyama's ability to score near the basket. The rookie scored 18 points while making 8 of 10 shots from the field in the final quarter. The Spurs outscored the Hawks 33-22 in the period.

“Thankfully we had as big a lead as we did and were able to hang on,” Young said.

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 opened the second period with 11 unanswered points to lead 46-16. Atlanta extended the lead to 35 points, 69-34, at halftime.

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

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.

When asked if he was thinking about the milestone, Young said, “It was not on my mind at all. I was just trying to go out there and win and put on a show.”

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.”

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.

UP NEXT

Spurts: At Boston on Wednesday.

Hawks: Host Orlando on Wednesday.

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