Hawks defeat Clippers in convincing fashion

LOS ANGELES -- The Hawks downed the Clippers 110-93 on their first night of back-to-back games.

Here are five observations.

1. The Hawks never gave the Clippers much of a chance to get comfortable in the game. While Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard had an explosive opening quarter, putting up 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, it did not do much for them.

The rest of the Clippers shot poorly, making just four of their 11 overall attempts.

The Hawks doubled down and made the Clippers work for every single jumper, layup or even attempt at the basket. They held the Clippers to just six points for five minutes, where they extended their lead to 17 points. They would hold the Clippers single-digit scoring for another eight minutes from the middle of the third to the beginning of the fourth.

That 24-9 run allowed the Hawks to a 91-62 lead within the first two minutes of the final frame.

2. The Clippers, who were on their fifth game in seven days, had zero plans to surrender and tried to take advantage of the Hawks’ lost focus. They upped their intensity, baiting the Hawks into ticky-tack fouls that sent Terrence Mann and Paul George to the free throw line.

They also tried to lean on James Harden, who looked to warm up after going 0-of-7 from the floor in the first three quarters. Harden knocked down a pair of triples and attacked the basket, drawing a foul off of De’Andre Hunter.

On top of that, he spread the Hawks’ defense as thinly as possible, baiting them into trapping him and drawing them off of Paul George.

It sent the Hawks into a bit of a tailspin as the Clippers went on an eight-minute, 24-9 run that cut the lead to 14 before a 3 from Jalen Johnson forced a timeout.

3. Johnson’s timely 3 not only stopped the Hawks’ bleeding, but it also forced Clippers coach Ty Lue to call the game. He sat his starters for the final three minutes of the contest and Snyder eventually cleared the Hawks’ bench despite only having 10 players active.

But with the Hawks on the first night of back-to-back games, the Hawks’ defensive stand ended up being their best of the season, so far.

They held the Clippers under 90 points for 47 minutes.

It marks the Hawks’ best defensive stretch of the season, where they have held their opponents to 101 of fewer points in six of their last 11 games.

4. The Hawks’ strong defense on the perimeter made life much easier for their big men in protecting the paint. They gave up 36 points in the paint, though they give up on average 54.6 points in the paint to their opponents each game.

But with the Hawks forcing the Clippers to take harder shots early, particularly Harden, who has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. It forced him to call for switches on Clint Capela in the hopes of getting a blowby to the basket.

5. Capela has given the Hawks some strong games over the last five games, where he has returned to form since coming back from injury.

The Hawks center has averaged double-digit rebounds and assists over the last five games. In that stretch he’s faced some formidable big men, who can make life tough for players inside.