Hawks look to even up trip, extend Clippers’ woes
The Atlanta Hawks will try to complete a .500 road trip on Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Clippers, who are looking to end a three-game losing streak.
The Hawks began the road trip — which covered 5,723 miles — with 12 players on either the COVID-19 list or injured list. Healthy again, they have won two of the five road games.
Atlanta was beaten 134-118 by the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.
The Clippers were defeated 123-108 on Saturday for their third straight loss. The Clippers have dropped nine of their last 12 games.
This will be the first of two meetings between the clubs. The Clippers won 119-110in Los Angeles last season, a game that saw Atlanta lose its eighth straight game when taking a lead into the fourth quarter.
The Clippers’ top scorers have been Marcus Morris Sr., who scored a season-high 29 on Saturday and averages 15.8 points, and Reggie Jackson, who scored 18 against the Grizzlies and averages 16.9 points.
The Clippers just got center Ivica Zubac back from COVID protocol, and he had eight points and seven rebounds — including his 2,000th career rebound — in 19 minutes. He averages 9.6 points and 8.2 rebounds. Zubac missed four games, and he showed some issues with stamina.
“We’re asking him to come out to the perimeter and then the drive,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We tried to adjust and go small, but that hurt us on the glass. Their pace was too much. They were meeting the ball and attacking.”
The Hawks are expected to push the pace, too. The Hawks have scored at least 117 points in five of their last six games, largely because of the return of Trae Young.
Young nearly had a triple-double against the Lakers, going for 25 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in 36 minutes. He has scored at least 25 points in 17 straight games, which set a franchise record. The streak matches the longest in the NBA this season and ties the longest streak over the last two seasons.
Young is averaging 28.3 points and 9.6 assists, and he is the only player in the league to be ranked among the top three in points and assists.
In his first three games back from health and safety protocols, Atlanta’s Kevin Huerter is averaging 19.7 points in 30.1 minutes. He scored 16 off the bench against the Lakers.
Atlanta’s problem has been defense. The Hawks have allowed 130-plus points seven times since Dec. 5 and in their last four losses.
“I think defense is an effort thing,” Young said. “It’s not necessarily a skill too much. It’s more about effort and your want, and a lot of it is game plan. Those two things go hand-in-hand, and I think we’ve got to do better on both of them. We’ve got to want it more.”
Atlanta could be without center Clint Capela, who has an ankle sprain. Backup Gorgui Dieng is the only remaining player on the protocol list. Los Angeles has Luke Kennard and Xavier Moon on the COVID list.
This will be the Clippers’ seventh back-to-back. They’ve won the second contest only once and have been swept three times.
–Field Level Media