The Hawks allowed the Clippers to knock down 19 3-pointers on Saturday night and fell 120-113 at State Farm Arena.
Here are five observations:
1. Despite hustling on both ends of the floor, the Hawks could not overcome the Clippers’ power from long distance.
The Hawks did a good job of forcing the Clippers out of the paint, holding them to 32 points. But the Clippers have a myriad of options that can hit shots from outside. They rank fifth in the NBA in 3-point shooting, knocking down 38% of their attempts.
It showed on Saturday with the Clippers making over 50% of their tries from 3 for much of the first three quarters. The Hawks eventually managed to hold them under 50% in the fourth. But the Clippers kept adjusting down the stretch.
2. The Hawks began the night strong defensively as they held Los Angeles to just 22 points in the first quarter. They held the Clippers to 9-of-23 (39.1%) shooting from the floor with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George shouldering the load for their team early.
In the first quarter, the Hawks made them work for every possession despite both players making over 40% of their tries. But the Hawks played solid defense while keeping the Clippers off the free-throw line, limiting them to just one trip.
But George and Leonard are among the best in their one-on-one matchups and the Hawks had to throw a mix of defensive schemes the Clippers’ way to try and slow them down. With the Clippers firing on all cylinders from outside, the Hawks’ defensive efforts ended up falling short.
“They did get going,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “They were shooting right over our defense and getting the ball to the spot they wanted on the floor. And both Paul and Kawhi did a good job of scoring against single coverage. So when we felt like we need to try to break the rhythm by mixing in some zone, mixing in some traps, they made us pay when we did that.”
3. Despite the Clippers hitting more shots from outside, the Hawks managed to keep things close. After the Clippers jumped ahead in the second quarter, Trae Young gave the Hawks a big third quarter to try and pull the game back within striking distance.
He looked to attack the paint, making both of his shots at the rim and drew contact while trying to cut through the Clippers’ defense.
His 10 points in the third quarter cut the L.A. lead to 84-81 and gave the Hawks a chance to close out the game. He ended the night with 31 points and 10 assists to pass Magic Johnson for seventh in NBA history in number of 30-plus points and 10-plus assists games.
4. The Hawks got a good start from John Collins, who scored nine quick points in his first six minutes in the first quarter to get the team out to a five-point lead. Despite the strong start, he ended the night with just 16 points, as the Hawks tried to get multiple options involved in the offense.
Collins has averaged 13.4 points this season, the fewest since his first year. But over the last month, he has been finding more of a rhythm and has put up 15.4 points on 54.1% shooting from the field, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.
“They were switching and we have to recognize where the advantage is whether it’s on the perimeter,” McMillan said. “I thought we dropped it to him some of the first half and second half and he was able to score a couple of times in that first half and second half. He had good looks, and the ball didn’t fall for him.”
5. The Hawks have struggled from 3-point range for much of this season but it seemed they had begun to move past those troubles recently. They shot 35% or higher in eight of their last 10 games but on Saturday night they knocked down just 25.9% of their attempts.
The Hawks average just 30.6 attempts per game, the second-lowest in the league. They also have the sixth-worst shooting percentage in the league.
Clippers 120, Hawks 113
Stat to know
The Hawks scored 100-plus points for the 25th straight game, putting in 113. They are one of four teams with an active streak of 100 or more points in 25 or more games.
“I mean, it’s easier said on how to stop those guys than just doing it. So they played really good tonight. Kawhi (Leonard) did a really job just scoring when he needed to and PG (Paul George) got everybody involved and you can trap and stuff but he was scoring on everything. -- Trae Young on trying to stop the fifth-best shooting team in the NBA.
The Hawks head out West for a 10-day, five-game road trip beginning with a stop against the Trail Blazers Monday. They return just before the trade deadline on Feb. 9.
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