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Hawks hammered in 150-101 loss to Clippers

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Clippers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks made their way to Los Angeles on Saturday night for some very late basketball at Staples Center. Kevin Huerter (left shoulder), John Collins (suspension) and Vince Carter (personal reasons) remained sidelined for the visitors, with Evan Turner (Achilles) upgraded to probable before making his first appearance since Oct. 28. For the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard was downgraded to out before the game along with Patrick Beverly. Leonard has been dealing with some left knee soreness and Beverly has a sore left calf.

The game began with some slow developing action from both teams. Paul George got his night started with a floater in the lane and from there the Hawks simply had no answer for him. George scored 15 first quarter points, including a bevy of difficult three-point shots.

The Hawks countered with very little offense. Jabari Parker converted an early three pointer, but Los Angeles went on a 20-3 run before Atlanta stopped the bleeding with some Trae Young free throws around the eight-minute mark.

Atlanta continued to reel in the Clippers and got things back into single digits after Young got settled in and began to pick apart the defense. Young piled up four assists in the first quarter as the Hawks rattled off 30 first quarter points.

However, the Hawks could take little solace from the first quarter point total as the Clippers dropped 43 points of their own. George was unbelievable and Lou Williams continued the roast when George exited for rest late in the first.

Atlanta opened the second quarter with Evan Turner, Cam Reddish, Jabari Parker, De’Andre Hunter and Damian Jones. That unit proved to be an effective one, as Hunter really picked up the scoring load by getting involved on 9 of the Hawks first 11 points of the second.

The Clippers lulled thanks in part to an improved defensive unit, but also because the Hawks began to rebound well and hold Los Angeles to just one shot on each possession.

At one point in the second, the Hawks were able to whittle the deficit down to just four points, but the Clippers then went on a 14-2 run to stretch the lead back out to 16.

Parker flushed a vicious dunk off a really nice dump pass from Alex Len which helped turn the momentum somewhat back in the Hawks favor.

Then Atlanta went small to close the quarter and Young got involved by scoring or assisting on 11 quick points for the Hawks in the final three minutes, which really made the first half look better than it was.

Evan Turner was fouled right before the close to the second quarter and he hit both free throws to cap an 11-point first half in his return to action.

The Hawks actually outscored the Clippers in the second quarter by a 32-31 margin and Atlanta went into the break trailing Los Angeles by 12 points.

The third period did not see Atlanta make much of any adjustments, at least of the effective variety. Los Angeles just continued to torch the defense (or lack thereof) on the backs of George and Williams. The Hawks were continuing to score with the Clippers, but it was simply just back and forth action.

The Clippers simply appeared to have too many seasoned NBA players for the young Atlanta defenders to keep up with, and Williams made an example of this several times in the latter part of the third. George mercifully was removed from the game for a (very) extended rest, but Los Angeles continued to pile up the points as the deficit bloated back to 20 points.

From there, Atlanta’s offense died off late in the third and things really got ugly as the Clipper offense held strong. Atlanta scored just five points in the final 6:10 to finish the third quarter and found themselves down 112-82 going into the final period.

George was re-inserted (for some reason) to open the fourth quarter and immediately drained a deep three for his 37th point of the night. George finally exited for the final time around the 10 minute mark of the fourth as both teams threw their “white flag” lineups to the floor.

The Clipper lead stretched to as many as 52 in the closing moments as the game trudged towards the end. The Hawks scored just 16 points in the fourth.

Trae Young led the way statistically with 20 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds for the Hawks. Hunter had 12 more, but there wasn’t much that went Atlanta’s way this evening on the stat sheet. In fact, it was the largest margin of defeat since the Hawks moved from St. Louis to Atlanta (and the largest margin of defeat in franchise history for a regular season game), which says it all.

Atlanta will be right back at in tomorrow evening in Los Angeles to face off against LeBron James and the new-look Lakers. That promises to be a fun game so make sure to tune in for that 9:30 pm ET tip.