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Hawks make strides before falling to Clippers, 127-119

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Three and half quality quarters.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Atlanta Hawks Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Though the Atlanta Hawks entered Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers with the NBA’s longest losing streak, the team performed quite well at State Farm Arena. However, the visitors proved superior with a fourth-quarter explosion and, in the end, the Hawks fell by a score of 127-119.

At the outset, the Hawks strung together one of their best offensive stretches of the season and, given the recent past, the onslaught came at a good time. Trae Young set the tone with two quick buckets at the rim and didn’t stop from there.

Young also connected on a four-point play to snap an empty streak from beyond the arc.

Later in the period, John Collins made quick work as he entered the game, scoring six straight points with a hat-tip to Young.

It wasn’t only the young guys, though, as Dewayne Dedmon got into the act with nine points (and great energy on both ends) in the opening period.

The end result was a 67 percent shooting clip in the first quarter for Atlanta and that was good for an unexpected five-point lead after 12 minutes. When the second quarter arrived, the Hawks stretched that edge to eight points but, seemingly on cue, the Clippers rattled off 10 straight to take the lead at 45-43.

Still, there were nice moments, including some strong perimeter work from Collins and a rookie connection from Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman.

Though the offense cooled considerably in the second quarter (shooting 11 of 29 from the floor and 2 of 11 from three), the Hawks managed an uptick defensively and held off the charging Clippers. At the break, Atlanta held a three-point advantage on the strength of high-end work from Young (19 points, seven assists) and that was a favorable position for the home team.

While the first few minutes of the second half were largely neutral, there were strong moments, including two threes (!) from Collins and a gorgeous find from Young.

Using that flurry of offense as a springboard, the Hawks then zoomed to 11 straight points, taking a 15-point advantage midway through the third period. Though Jeremy Lin did his best to keep Atlanta comfortable with three big shots, the Clippers did climb back in the game, utilizing an offensive burst to narrow the margin to 96-89 with one quarter to play.

That push continued from the visitors and, when it subsided to some degree, the Clippers had outscored the Hawks by a 20-5 margin to take a 97-96 lead with 9:25 to play. Taurean Prince then stopped the bleeding with five straight points but, from there, Atlanta was in a close-fought battle.

Though Alex Len produced a pair of significant buckets to reestablish control for Atlanta in the final minutes, the lead never fully blossomed for Lloyd Pierce and company. Old friend Mike Scott connected on a three to give the Clippers the lead with 4:08 remaining and, while the Hawks did push back within one, Los Angeles then rattled off six straight to take a 117-110 lead with 2:54 to play.

After that, the Clippers were able to push the edge to nine points but, to Atlanta’s credit, things were firmly in doubt after four straight points in response. Scott (again) knocked down a three with 1:29 remaining, though, and that proved to be the dagger on the way to the eight-point final margin.

Young led the way statistically for the Hawks, scoring 25 points and dishing out 17 assists at the point of attack. In support, Dedmon (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Len (12 points, 12 rebounds) both contributed double-doubles, while Collins (18 points, six assists) and Prince (21 points) produced in a big way.

After a day off on Tuesday, the Hawks return to action on Thanksgiving Eve, as the team plays host to the Toronto Raptors in their next contest. Stay tuned.