Five Takeaways: Clippers Head To All-Star Break With Fourth Straight Win
LOS ANGELES – The Clippers (35-21) head into the All-Star break with plenty of momentum, dismantling the Hawks (32-24) by riding their defense once again to a fourth straight win.
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 99-84 win.
1) Raining 3s – By the end of the first quarter, four of the Clippers’ five starters had hit at least one 3-pointer. By the end of the first half, eight Clippers had already hit at least one 3-pointer, and their 10 3-pointers at the time were more than they had made in their entire previous game against Utah.
The Clippers went 10-for-20 behind the arc in the first half alone while shooting 51.2 percent from the floor and holding the Hawks to 40 percent shooting at the time, taking a 14-point lead to halftime led by J.J. Redick’s 3-for-5 start from 3-point range.
2) Defense leads the way again – It was just a couple games ago that the Clippers had allowed at least 100 points 11 straight times. They’ve erased those ways in recent efforts, nearly holding the Hornets to fewer than 100 points, then allowing a season-low 72 points to the Hawks and following up that performance Wednesday holding the Hawks to just 84 points, sweeping the season series with Atlanta in the process.
It’s the first time the Clippers have accomplished that feat since 2005-06, and it was never close after outscoring Atlanta by 15 points in the second quarter. Head coach Doc Rivers said before the game defense is the Clippers’ key every night, and he thought the Utah game was their best defensive performance of the season. Wednesday’s performance against Atlanta couldn’t have been too far behind.
3) Forcing turnovers – In addition to holding the Hawks to 40.5 percent shooting, the Clippers also forced the Hawks to commit 23 turnovers, the most the Clippers have forced in a game this season. The Clippers had active hands all night, and it carried to both the starters and backups.
A reserve group of Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton, Wesley Johnson, Marreese Speights and Alan Anderson helped spark the Clippers in the second quarter, and Felton, Johnson and Crawford combined to gather 10 steals. Overall, five different Clippers finished the night with multiple steals.
4) Keeping the focus – Doc Rivers said before the game all coaches are afraid of the final game before the All-Star break from a focus standpoint. That, however, seemed to be more of a problem for the Hawks than the Clippers.
After a slow first quarter, the Clippers looked lively defensively, forcing the Hawks into long misses and multiple air-balled shots. Once going ahead by double digits in the second quarter, the Clippers kept their foot on the pedal, and there wasn’t much of a doubt about the outcome at any point in the second half.
5) Redick gets going from deep – J.J. Redick came into the night shooting just 27.7 percent from 3-point range this month, but he got going quickly from behind the arc Wednesday. Redick started 5-for-7 from long distance, already gathering his most 3-pointers in a game in February by early in the third quarter.
Redick finished the night with 15 points, all off made 3-pointers, trailing only Blake Griffin (17 points, nine assists, five rebounds) in scoring for the Clippers. On the glass, it was DeAndre Jordan leading the effort with 16 rebounds.
What’s Next? – The Clippers play Feb. 23 at Golden State after the All-Star break.