Rapid Reaction: Clippers 109, Hawks 108
March, 8, 2014
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The faces in the Los Angeles Clippers' locker room have changed a lot since the last time the team played and lost to the Atlanta Hawks back in December.
Back then, the Clippers didn't have Danny Granger, Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Hedo Turkoglu -- three players L.A. is counting on to breathe new life into its second unit not only at the end of the regular season, but in the playoffs as well.
On Saturday, the Clippers didn't necessarily need their second unit to have a big night as every starter scored at least 12 points and the Clippers defeated the Hawks, 109-108, to win their seventh straight game and inch closer to home-court advantage in the first round.
But that trio and the second unit did help the Clippers take a 11-point lead in the fourth quarter that should have helped made the victory far less dramatic at the end.
"That stretch in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter with Danny, Willie Green and Hedo," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "That group, they stretched the lead and they got it to 11 and that was big for us."
How it happened: The Clippers had a hard time breaking away from the Hawks on Saturday. Atlanta led for most of the first half and at the break. The Hawks grabbed a four-point lead in the third quarter before the Clippers took control and didn't look back until the end of the game, when Atlanta nearly tied it at the end of regulation before Jeff Teague missed a free throw that essentially gave the Clippers the one-point win.
What it means: The Clippers have now won seven straight games and are virtually tied with the Houston Rockets for the third seed in the Western Conference. With the Clippers holding a 26-5 record at home, the best in the West, home court in as many rounds as possible come playoff time will be crucial.
Hits: Blake Griffin had 27 points, eight rebounds and five assists and now has scored at least 20 points in 22 straight games. Chris Paul had 19 points and 10 assists, his 32nd double-double of the season, and DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and 12 rebounds, his 33rd double-double of the season. Matt Barnes scored 17 points and Darren Collison had 12.
Misses: Jamal Crawford was expected back from a strained left calf, but he played less than 10 minutes in the first half and didn't play in the second. He missed both of his shots and finished with three points. Crawford is listed as day-to-day.
Stat of the game: The Clippers scored 60 points in the paint compared to 40 for the Hawks in a physical game during which the officials let the bigs go at it for most of the game.
Up next: The Clippers will take Sunday off before playing the Phoenix Suns on Monday. The Clippers and Suns have split their first two games this season with both teams winning on the other's home court. The Clippers came from behind to beat the Suns, 104-96, on Tuesday. The last time the Suns played the Clippers in L.A. they beat them 107-88.