When the 2017-2018 season began, Nov. 22 did not look to be a favorable spot for the Atlanta Hawks. The Los Angeles Clippers underwent quite a transition in the offseason, losing Chris Paul to the Rockets, but most projected Doc Rivers’ team as a playoff unit. The visitors arrived on a nine-game losing streak, though, providing some real optimism surrounding the pre-Thanksgiving tilt at Philips Arena.
Unfortunately, the Hawks were not able to come up with a victory at home despite strong offensive effort in the first half. In the end, it was a 116-103 loss that will send the team into the holiday on a less than stellar note after three straight defeats and seven losses in eight games.
While expectations may have been rather low from a national perspective through the prism of entertainment, the fans were treated to an intriguing first half. The Hawks were able to hold serve with a 30-29 lead at the end of the first quarter and, while the defense scuffled, Marco Belinelli knocked down all five of his early shots to keep Atlanta afloat.
In the second quarter, things got even wilder, with both teams throwing offensive haymakers throughout to a crescendo in the final seconds. John Collins, well, did this:
That, of course, was not Collins’ only contribution, as the youngster (making his first NBA start) threw down multiple dunks before the break. Defensively, the Hawks were largely unable to generate stops but the offense shot 57 percent from the floor and, after an apparent Lou Williams’ buzzer-beater was waved off, Atlanta took a one-point lead into the break while posting a 131 offensive rating over 24 minutes.
While the defense continued to let the Hawks down, the offense regressed a bit in the third quarter. There was a very entertaining stretch in which Atlanta knocked down three consecutive threes (from Bazemore, Dedmon and Schröder) but, aside from that, the Clippers controlled the festivities. In fact, that run was countered (after a timeout) by a 19-6 run by the visitors and the end result was a four-point Los Angeles lead after three quarters.
Blake Griffin and company looked to run away and hide early in the fourth quarter, using a 9-2 spurt to take an 11-point lead. Out of a timeout, however, Bazemore and DeAndre’ Bembry connected on back-to-back triples to stop the bleeding and seemingly restore order.
From there, though, the Clippers turned on the jets, quickly extending the lead back to double-figures with a 13-5 run and that was effectively the end of the evening.
The Hawks received strong showings from Collins (14 points, nine rebounds), Dedmon (17 points, six rebounds), Belinelli (20 points on 7 of 11 shooting) and Bazemore (14 points, five rebounds), while Prince (1 of 7, two points and defensive issues) struggled throughout the evening. With that said, the culprit for the loss was the team defense and the Clippers were effectively able to do anything they wanted on the offensive end throughout the evening.
Atlanta will have Thanksgiving off (along with the rest of the league) before returning to action on Friday evening against the New York Knicks. Stay tuned.