When you string together a bunch of wins in a row, you're bound to have a game like this one sprinkled in there somewhere. And given that the Clippers have been so good in the other six games of this streak - blowing out bottom feeders like the Lakers and the Pelicans (twice) while taking down top conference foes like the Rockets, Thunder and Suns in impressive fashion - I'm inclined to chalk this one up as an anomaly and give little attention to the outcome in the grand scheme of things. What's important is that the Clippers found a way to win and avoided losing any ground in an insanely competitive conference. But boy was that a rough game. The Hawks matched every Clipper turnover with an airball, it seemed, and yet they still had a chance to tie the game in the final second with Jeff Teague at the line. Teague is an 83% free throw shooter, but he missed the one he was trying to make and made the one he was trying to miss, bailing the Clippers out of a game that they played poor enough to lose. While the turnovers were bad - this was their 10th game this season with 18 or more turnovers - the thing I thought was most concerning was how easily the Hawks seem to breakdown the defense for most of the night. The Clippers have climbed to number eight in the league in defensive efficiency (per Hollinger's numbers), but this game was a stepback to their status at the beginning of the season when their rotations were slow and ineffective. The Hawks shot 50% from the floor and 44% from three, with 29 assists on their 38 field goals. While the Hawks do have a fairly anonymous squad that can surprise you when bigs like Pero Antic and Mike Scott start hitting threes, that's not excuse for the open looks they were allowed to get. This was a very Spurs-like game from the Hawks, which is an obvious connection to make since Mike Budenholzer spent seven years on Pop's staff, but they were incredibly unselfish and made the most of the spacing their bigs provided, always having some kind of motion to go to if their primary and secondary actions failed to produce anything. Though the Hawks had 15 turnovers themselves, this seemed like a very disciplined performance, and with the Clippers off their A-game, it resulted in an exploited defense that gave up a ton of good looks to a team that can only survive under those circumstances. But again, throughout any seven game stretch an off night is bound to happen, and the Clippers found a way to win on their off night, which gives them a seven-game winning streak heading into their rematch against the Suns on Monday. If the Clippers can tighten things up for the next couple of games, wins over the Suns and Warriors could give them the most impressive streak in the NBA this season. And if they do that, nobody will remember this little hiccup against the Hawks.
Clippers Stumble To A 109-108 Victory Over The Hawks
Clips Nation | Mar 9