Montrezl Harrell: 25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 steals, 15-18 FT
Tobias Harris: 24 points, 8 rebounds, 4-8 3FG
Mike Scott: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6-12 3FG (Career high for makes)
Lou Williams: 16 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds
Boban Marjanovic: 12 points in 10 minutes
The Clippers have enjoyed giving their fans near heart attacks since they were established back in 1970, and this game was no different. An absolute roller-coaster of a game with double-digit leads for both teams, threes and dunks galore, and a ton of points, the Clippers were the cardiac kids once again, this time using a huge fourth quarter to snatch the game from the Atlanta Hawks grasp. The Clippers ended up winning the game by eight after besting the Hawks by 15 in the fourth quarter. This game was nerve-wracking and intense, but ultimately ended victorious for the men in red and blue.
The first quarter (really the first three) looked anything but victorious, as the Clips slept through a dreary first frame that saw the Hawks pull together a five point lead after the Clips had led by six early on. You could tell that the absence of Danilo Gallinari, as well as Avery Bradley’s first game back, made for a bit of an awkward star: iso ball was taking place and the Clips struggled rebounding inside. The quarter was only close due to a Clipper career-high 12 first quarter points from Tobias Harris. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was also showing promise, as he was able to get to the rim well and was moving the ball despite shots not going down. The Hawks were bullying the Clips inside and rebounding everything, which led to wide open threes, their bread-and-butter.
The second quarter was no different as the Clips looked sluggish after an intense game in Brooklyn on Saturday and a long plane trip. They scored well however, as Mike Scott hit two threes in the frame and Montrezl Harrell came alive. The Clips were doing a good job of getting to the line, as the refs were definitely calling a tight game. Harrell took advantage, making 15 in the game and 9 in the first half. The Clips were once again having an issue rebounding, with Alex Len and Dwayne Dedmon eating on both ends. The Hawks get a lot of long rebounds with their long shots and the Clips didn’t seem too keen on hustling to grab them. Harris hit a clutch three late in the quarter to trim the lead to three before halftime.
The first six minutes of the third quarter were some of the worst basketball I have seen out of the Clippers this season. Slow, iso-ball on offense and no rotations on defense led to many wide open Hawks threes and easy dunks inside. The Clips were down 91-77 in the middle of the period. Then the “Mad Scientist” (Shoutout Corey Maggette) Doc Rivers inserted Milos Teodosic for some pace and surprisingly, good defense on Trae Young. The results were slow but slowly the lead was trimmed to eight. Trez really started heating up, making running hooks, getting fouled and converting and getting his hands in passing lanes. Then Boban entered. The rest of the period was owned by the distribution game of Milos, Lou, Trez and Boban, and the momentum of the game completely switched. By the start of the fourth quarter, Boban was challenging shots at the rim excellently, and making everything on the offensive end, helping give the Clippers the lead back .
The offense completely opened up at this point, and guys like SGA and Tobias were able to get back into the flow and convert chances late. With guards finally getting downhill, Scott got some good three-point looks, and he converted three straight to open up a near 10-point lead for the Clips late. The Hawks put up an incredibly valiant effort (Taurean Prince is a beast) but the Clips squeaked by the upstart squad 127-119. A game that shouldn’t have ever been that close, based on record and on paper, but a game the Clips needed to win to save a road-trip. You guys are now looking at the (tied for) first place Clippers in the West. What a world.
Next man up: Besides the obvious “Clamp City” identity the Clippers have, L.A. is one of the deepest teams in the league this season. This next man up mantra obviously came up big tonight as Mike Scott had a career night, in his old home of Atlanta: a team that traded him for basically nothing. Meanwhile, Milos put in some solid work and Boban did Boban things. With Gallo out and the backcourt of Bradley and Patrick Beverley not producing on the offensive end, this next man up treatment was huge.
Defense stepped up late, however still problems remain: The Clippers are not a good rebounding team. Yes, they won the rebounding battle surprisingly tonight 52-51 (I was shocked when I read that, to be honest), but they struggle with length on other teams. Marcin Gortat has never been known as a rim stopper or a great rebounder, and he is starting to show cracks despite a decent offensive game. Harrell tries his best but is only 6’8”. The leading rebounder on the team is the 6’9” Harris with 8.7 a game. Also...love Beverley’s intensity, but he tends to overcommit on defense and get burned. Trae Young, who’s all of 5’11, 180 lbs soaking wet, was torching Beverley and SGA with moves to the rim. The pick-and-roll defense was off as well, as hedging was non-existent and Young was able to do whatever he wanted.
Boban needs more time: Tonight just felt like a Boban night. He didn’t disappoint. Yes, we all know he can’t play every night due to matchups, but he thoroughly confused the Hawks into a bunch of fouls and easy finishes. Even if he got only like five minutes a night, he always helps the cause.
Fatigue tomorrow?: The Clips now have to head back to the northeast to face the Washington Wizards tomorrow. Their travel has been absolutely brutal over the past few days as they have gone from L.A., to Brooklyn, to Atlanta, and now back up to D.C. It’s a good thing Gallo didn’t play tonight, as tomorrow would even be rougher. With the depth this team has, fatigue shouldn’t be a problem, but we saw it tonight and tomorrow might be even worse. While the Wiz are dealing with a lot of issues institutionally right now, they are still a team with two All-Stars and will be at home.