Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Joe Johnson scored a team-high 29 points, and the Atlanta Hawks used a big fourth quarter to get past the Los Angeles Clippers, 107-98, at the Staples Center. Jamal Crawford finished with 24 points off the bench, while Josh Smith chipped in 22 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which has won three of its last four overall, but only three of its last 10 tries on the road. "I told our guys at the half we have to go out and run more and we did that," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said. "We did a good job with our adjustments."
Blake Griffin posted his 21st straight double-double with 31 points and 15 boards for the Clippers, who have lost two straight and three of five overall. Baron Davis ended with 15 points in defeat. "You can't give a team like that more possessions," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Their execution was better in the second half. The game came easy to us in the first half. We need to learn how to take our game to the next level."
Trailing 83-76 with 8:41 left in the fourth, the Hawks began a 15-2 run when Smith's dunk and three-pointer bookended three free throws by Crawford. Johnson's turnaround jumper midway through the quarter put Atlanta in the lead by a point and the Hawks extended that lead six at 91-85 on another jumper by Johnson. Griffin's two foul shots at the 3:00 mark drew the Clippers to within two, 94-92, but Crawford hit a long jumper from the left side and after a defensive stop, Al Horford's putback had Atlanta ahead by a 98-92 margin with 1:23 left.
The Hawks cruised the rest of the way. Randy Foye's two buckets finished the scoring in the first quarter and gave the Clippers a 31-18 lead after 12 minutes. Los Angeles stretched its margin to 16 twice, the second time at 45-29 after Eric Gordon hit a jumper with 5:09 left in the half. Smith drained two from the stripe with under a minute to play to cut the Atlanta deficit to single digits at 49-40.
Two Davis free throws with three seconds remaining gave the Clippers a 53-42 advantage heading into the locker room. Ryan Gomes hit a three-pointer to put LA up 74-63 with 2:46 left in the third. However, the Hawks scored seven straight to end the quarter and make it a four-point game heading into the fourth.
Atlanta swept the home-and-home series between the two clubs last season and has won five of six overall versus the Clippers...Gomes, Gordon and Eric Bledsoe each finished with 10 points for LA, which shot 46.3 percent from the field...Atlanta made 45.7 percent of its shots and 8-of-18 from three-point range.
The Los Angeles Clippers look to start 2011 on a high note when they host the Atlanta Hawks in an afternoon affair at Staples Center. The Clippers, who lost to Utah at home last Wednesday in their final game of 2010, hope three days off will provide the necessary rest to get back on the winning track. The Hawks, who at 21-14 currently hold the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, swept the season series with the Clippers last season, and have won their last two meetings with the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Blake Griffin moved up to sixth place among Western Conference forwards (and really just a shade below fourth) in the latest round of NBA All-Star voting, as his notoriety is catching up with his performance on the court. Griffin is averaging 21.5 points and 12.4 rebounds on the season, and has a streak of 20 straight double-doubles, the fourth longest streak in the NBA since the 1991-1992 season. In addition, Griffin is the youngest player to collect at least 10 rebounds in 20 or more games. He likely won't be voted in as a starter, but Griffin should be playing on his home court in some way or another at the All-Star Game on February 20 at Staples Center.
I sometimes think the Atlanta Hawks exist to remind me that Mike Bibby is still in the NBA. Bibby, now in his 13th season, is having a bizarre season so far. He is fourth in the league in three-point shooting percentage, making 48.6% of his shots from beyond the arc, and he has made 71 threes, fifth in the NBA. However, Bibby this season has made just 20 of his 34 free throws, a 58.8% clip that is far below his career 80.4% mark from the charity stripe.
The Hawks are in the middle of a four-game road trip that will also see them travel to Sacramento and Utah. They have a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging at least 14.7 points per game, led by Joe Johnson and his 17.2 scoring average. They are 12th in the NBA in offensive efficiency (106.8 points per 100 possessions), and 11th in the NBA in defensive efficiency (104.8 points per 100 possessions).
Al-Farouq Aminu has averaged 12 points and eight rebounds in the last two contests, making four of nine three-pointers along the way...DeAndre Jordan's seven blocks on Wednesday against the Jazz were the most by a Clipper since Marcus Camby had seven blocks on December 6, 2008 against Minnesota...Eric Gordon ranks 10th in the NBA, averaging 23.8 points per game, and has scored 20 points or more in 22 of his last 28 games.
For more Clippers news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Clips Nation.