Los Angeles – The Atlanta Hawks managed to spilt their four-game west coast road trip with a 112-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday night.
The fourth quarter told the tale as Atlanta (19-21 overall) went into it trailing the Clippers (21-21) by two points and would leave Cryoto.com Arena with a much needed victory after outscoring their hosts 27-21 during the final period.
Hawks guard Trae Young (30 points, 8-16 from the field, 9-9 from the line) scored the team’s final six points. Hawks head coach Nate McMillan said about Young’s effort at the end of the game, “A guy like that, he’s really one of our closers. I thought tonight he really made good reads and finished.”
A 11-0 Hawks run capped by a Dejounte Murray layup that started after an Oneyka Okongwu block tied the game at 102 with just under four minutes to play. With 1:16 remaining the game was tied again at 106 following a pair of free throws from Hawks guard. Trae Young. With 47 seconds on the clock Young would give the Hawks the lead on a floater and again on a drive and finally with a pair of free throws near the end of the game.
The Hawks missed Clint Capela tonight who continues to miss games with a right calf strain. Capela’s rebounding and shot-blocking would have helped guard Clippers center Ivica Zubac who scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds during the first quarter. Even reserve center Moses Brown (8 points and 10 rebounds) took advantage of Capela’s absence, grabbing seven rebounds during the first half.
But the Hawks took greater advantage of the absence of the Clippers All-Star forward Paul George and his team-high 23.7 points per game. The Clippers took an early 9-2 lead and held an advantage for the entirety of the first quarter behind strong starts from former NBA Finals MVP and multi-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard (29 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists) and Tre Mann (14 points, 7 rebounds), who both scored seven points during the period.
The second quarter belonged to Atlanta as Hawks reserve forward Jalen Johnson scored 11 points and lead the Hawks to a 10-point advantage, 40-30 with just over seven minutes remaining in the half. Atlanta would secure their largest lead of the first half, 50-38, following a three-pointer from Young, his first of the game. Huge dunks from John Collins (13 points and nine rebounds) off a pass from Young and De’Andre Hunter (20 points, 8-13 from the field) following a drive helped give Atlanta a 66-52 lead at the half.
The third quarter saw the teams trade baskets and grind put possessions throughout the period with the Clippers winning the quarter 35-19 and regaining the lead, 87-85. Young only managed to score four points during the quarter.
Young and the restless:
Johnson played 15 minutes and rookie AJ Griffin played 11 minutes tonight. McMillan said the young players are getting extended minutes because of all the injuries the team has suffered this season. “The key is for them to be ready when their number is called,” he said.
Young was complimentary of the team’s youngsters. “Our bench this year is a lot younger than previous years,” he said with a smile. “We’re continuing to tell them to stay ready.”
The Hawks lost the rebounding battle 59-43 tonight. Atlanta was out-rebounded by the Lakers 51-39 during their loss Friday night.
Atlanta returns home to host the Milwaukee Bucks (25-14) Wednesday, January 11 before traveling to Indiana (23-18) and Toronto (17-23) Friday, Jan. 20 and Saturday, Jan. 21. The Hawks, as per tradition, will play the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day game against the Miami Heat (19-21) at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 16.
The Atlanta Voice asked Hunter how it feels to have a couple nights off. “Great, I’m tired,” he said.