With all the drama surrounding LA’s ‘other’ team, our Clippers seemingly can’t catch a break in terms of respect. Playing an afternoon game against a solid (probably playoff bound) Eastern Conference team was a pretty good gauge of whether the Clippers could string together a win streak against credible foes.
And they did so by exercising their biggest advantage – their depth and bench.
The contest was rough and even over three quarters, with neither team able to build much a lead and the Clippers taking a 2 point lead into the half. By the end of the third, that lead had only climbed to 5, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin both scoring in double figures and the defense holding the Hawks to under 40% shooting.
In the fourth, the Clippers bench turned the tables on the Hawks, whose subs lead the NBA in proficiency, by extending the lead to as much as 20 before settling for a 13 point margin at the end. Jamal Crawford drew the attention of Hawks defenders, repeatedly dishing off to team mates for easy baskets, while the defensive intensity of Matt Barnes and Rony Turiaf led to fast break points the other way (Barnes’ emphatic dunk prompting Atlanta’s last timeout before throwing in the towel).
Blake Griffin had a terrific game with 16 points, followed by Paul with 15. Caron Butler chipped in 13 and was much more active in this game, responding to Coach Del Negro’s urging to pick things up. Diondre Jordan played only 24 minutes, while logging 8 points on 3 of 6 shooting, making his only two free throw attempts, and Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes added 11 and 10, respectively.