Clippers halt Hawks’ win streak at 8

Trae Young drives to the basket as Paul George defends and Kawhi Leonard looks on during Monday's Hawks-Clippers game in Los Angeles.
Caption
Trae Young drives to the basket as Paul George defends and Kawhi Leonard looks on during Monday's Hawks-Clippers game in Los Angeles.

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The Hawks (22-21) blew a 22-point lead in a 119-110 loss to the Clippers (28-16) Monday in Los Angeles.

Next up, the Hawks will play Wednesday in Sacramento, continuing their eight-game West Coast road trip.

Below are some takeaways from the loss:

1. Forward De’Andre Hunter made his return to play after undergoing a lateral meniscus debridement procedure Feb. 8. He was operating on a 16-20 minute restriction. Hunter looked good considering the time he’s missed, finishing with eight points in 20:29.

ExploreDe’Andre Hunter excited about return to court

Before the game, interim coach Nate McMillan said he was just looking for Hunter to get re-acclimated to the game, after missing so much time: “... When a guy is coming back like this, he’s already nervous about stepping out on the floor, you just want to put him in a position where he’s not putting a lot of pressure on himself, work himself back into shape, into rhythm.”

2. Entering Monday, the Hawks had the longest active win streak in the league at eight games, but the Clippers snapped that. That had been the longest Hawks win streak since winning 19 in a row from Dec. 27, 2014-Jan. 31, 2015.

3. Led by Luke Kennard, the Clippers’ second unit resuscitated their offense and the Hawks had no answer, after playing scrappy defense up until that point. Midway through third quarter, with the Hawks up 21 and dominating the Clippers on both ends, Clippers coach Ty Lue subbed out all his starters.

The bench played well to contrast the Hawks’ bench unit struggles during that stretch and Kennard (20 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and Terance Mann (21 points, 10 rebounds) caught fire, with the Clippers chipping away at what was a 22-point deficit at the 4:15 mark in the third to tie things up, 103-103, with 4:35 left in the fourth quarter. About two minutes later, they finally overtook the Hawks and didn’t look back, as the Hawks couldn’t stop Mann or Kennard, and later Kawhi Leonard, who worked his way up to 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

4. This was reminiscent of the Hawks’ pattern of struggling in the fourth quarter prior this season, as they started to crumble late.

They were outscored, 37-20, in the final period, and couldn’t get a stop, as the Clippers shot 72.2% from the floor (13-18) and 66.7% from 3 (6-9).

McMillan attributed some of that to the Hawks losing focus: “We were playing good basketball. Started to celebrate in that third quarter. They made some adjustments, they went small, and we just lost our focus and didn’t finish this game.”

Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter and Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann go after a rebound during the first half Monday, March 22, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP)
Caption
Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter and Los Angeles Clippers guard Terance Mann go after a rebound during the first half Monday, March 22, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP)

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

5. Tony Snell continues to excel from 3-point range, giving the Hawks a potent shooting threat off the bench. Snell, who was shooting 56.6% from distance entering Monday’s game, went 3-for-5 from distance, adding 13 points and six rebounds.

Stat of the game

41 (what Kennard and Mann combined to score off the bench, with the Clippers bench providing 52 points total)

Star of the game

Kennard (resuscitated the Clippers’ offense in the third quarter and went 4-for-3 from 3-point range)

Quotable

“... The way we lost this one tonight, man, it just hurts a little deep. You always find positives out of every loss, every game, but this one’s real tough.” (John Collins on the Hawks’ rough finish)