Short-Handed Hawks Grab Impressive Win Over Clippers

Atlanta Hawks
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Story by KL Chouinard
Twitter: @KLChouinard

John Collins was a rock for the Hawks Wednesday night in their win over LA Clippers. With Trae Young out with a right thigh contusion, Collins took over as the singular focal point of the Hawks and delivered a sizzling performance: 33 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block.


Collins was The Rock after the game, too. As he spoke to reporters in the locker room, Kevin Huerter suggested that Collins was sporting a familiar style.

More should be said of Collins' success against the Clippers, and after a normal game, Collins would wrestle away all the headlines. For the Hawks, though, this wasn't a typical game. The Hawks don't usually win after falling behind by 21 points. They don't usually win on nights when they shoot 35 percent from the field. And if that's not enough, the Clippers topped the Hawks by a 150-101 margin just two months ago.


The Hawks did win this game, though, and they won it, in large part, because the team brought a overwhelming amount of get-up-and-go to their second-half performance. Two of the Hawks' energy players – Bruno Fernando and Brandon Goodwin – led that charge in encouraging fashion. 


Fernando scored six points and grabbed a career-high nine rebounds, but his work on the glass went beyond those nine rebounds. He played a vital role in occupying Clipper rebounders when the Hawks shots went up. The Clippers boxed him out with one, sometimes two defenders, and Fernando often kept the ball alive so that his teammates could grab it.


"They're a really good offensive rebounding team," Fernando said of the Clippers afterward, "so we were just trying to hit them with the same thing that they hit us with."


The Hawks did all of that and then some. They posted season-highs with 63 rebounds and 23 offensive rebounds. As a result of their work on the glass, the Hawks took 102 shots for the game. The Clippers took just 78. On a night when the shot-making wasn't perfect, the Hawks made up for it by simply getting more shots. 


While Fernando battled on the boards, Brandon Goodwin orchestrated the offense and the defense. 


Because Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were out for the Clippers, Lou Williams became the center of their offense. It was Goodwin's task to slow him. With the Clippers playing their second game in two nights, Lloyd Pierce called on Goodwin to apply full-court pressure in an effort to wear down Williams and the Clippers. The result? A head-to-head battle of local, former metro-Atlanta prep stars.


In the end, Norcross' Goodwin came out on top over Williams, the pride of South Gwinnett. While helping hold Williams to 3-for-10 shooting in the fourth quarter, Goodwin also scored 19 points on a mix of pull-up threes and dashing drives. He came within a basket of outscoring the entire Clipper team (20 points) in the final frame. 


Lou-Will had hearty praise ready for his fellow Georgian after the game. 


"I thought he single-handedly changed the energy, changed the momentum of the game tonight and went and got that win for them.”


If Goodwin is lucky, he will continue to grow and taste some of the success that Williams has had as an NBA pro. On this night, he took one huge step in that direction.


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