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Hawks upend Clippers in strong road showing, 123-118

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A quality win for Atlanta.

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks took the floor in Los Angeles on Monday evening and the match-up against the Clippers served as the third game of a seven-game road trip. While the win-loss results were mixed in the first two games, the Hawks entered with the reasonable expectation to compete at a high level against a playoff contender and they did that and more. Atlanta led for the vast majority of the evening and, in the end, secured a 123-118 victory.

The night began in positive fashion with a strong first quarter performance from the Hawks and the tone was set by an opening dunk from Dewayne Dedmon as the first points of the evening.

John Collins and the rest of the offense then settled in, with the second-year big man continuing to show off his developing perimeter game as a shooter.

Collins and Jeremy Lin knocked down back-to-back threes to cap an 8-0 run from the visiting team and the Hawks took a solid lead at 18-12. On cue, the Clippers responded with a 9-2 spurt of their own to regain control but, before the first quarter came to an end, Trae Young got into the act with a buzzer-beating finish to push Atlanta’s lead to seven.

The lay-up by Young wasn’t the end of Atlanta’s push, as a 9-2 run to end the first quarter quickly became a 14-2 overall run that gave Lloyd Pierce’s team a 12-point advantage.

The Clippers did respond with seven straight points but, after a break in the action facilitated by a timeout, Dedmon threw down another dunk, with this one coming in follow-up fashion.

Still, the big story of the first half was the play of Collins and Young, with 31 of the first 51 points coming from Atlanta’s foundational duo.

Los Angeles did put together an 8-0 run (with Collins and Young on the bench) to climb within one but the Hawks were able to hold off that charge, taking a narrow lead into the locker room at the half. There were some fireworks, including a technical foul on Young, in the final seconds of the second quarter but, all told, the Hawks shot 50 percent from the floor and the Young-Collins duo combined for 33 points (17 for Young, 16 for Collins) to lead the way.

The second half opened in back-and-forth fashion, with the two teams trading scores and not generating many stops. Collins did throw down a dunk, though, which provided entertainment as usual.

Moments later, Young and Collins hooked up again, with the point guard doing the lion’s share of the work on this particular occasion.

In something of a surprising twist, Vince Carter entered midway through the third quarter (after sitting for the entire first half) and the 42-year-old made an immediate impact.

Carter would also contribute another long-range connection to help key a 17-4 run but, during that stretch, the headliner was Alex Len with seven points and all kinds of activity.

The positive stretch gave the Hawks a 13-point lead and, when the dust settled on the third quarter, Atlanta took an 11-point advantage to the closing period. The visitors weren’t done there, though, as the Hawks stretched the lead to 109-93 in short order on the strength of more strong play from Len.

With less than seven minutes to make a sizable comeback, the Clippers began to chip away to some degree but Omari Spellman pushed back against a potential run with a three-point connection.

On cue, Los Angeles did threaten the lead, scoring eight consecutive points to climb within a 116-108 margin with less than four minutes remaining. Fortunately, Young stopped the bleeding with a timely layup at the 3:10 mark and that proved to be a big basket.

The Clippers kept coming, cutting the deficit to six, but the home team simply couldn’t get over the hump in the final minutes. Young made play after play and the “dagger” arrived in a dump-off to Dedmon for a dunk.

It wasn’t always pretty, especially as the lead dwindled, but the Hawks survived the threat and escaped with the win.

All told, it was a strong offensive effort from the Hawks in this spot, keyed by Collins, Young and Len. Collins finished with 22 points (on 7 of 10 shooting and 3 of 5 from three) and six rebounds, Young produced 26 points (on 10 of 18 shooting) and eight assists, and Len added 19 points and nine rebounds in only 21 minutes of action. In support, Dedmon finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, with Lin contributing 13 points and four assists.

The Hawks continue their Super Bowl road trip on Wednesday evening with an interesting face-off against the Sacramento Kings. Stay tuned.