Clippers-Hawks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 24, 2012
The Los Angeles Clippers are looking to avoid a sub.-500 trip. A game against the surging Atlanta Hawks could make that difficult for the Pacific Division leaders. The Clippers will try to avoid a season-high third consecutive loss on Saturday night when the Hawks look to extend their season-best winning streak to five. After defeating San Antonio 92-87 on Monday to open its trip - and extending its winning streak to six - Los Angeles (8-4) lost 117-111 to Oklahoma City on Wednesday and 86-76 to Brooklyn on Friday. The Clippers were outscored 46-29 in the final 24 minutes and shot a season-low 40.3 percent from the field against the Nets. It was Los Angeles' lowest scoring game since a 74-71 loss at Portland on Feb. 16. "You've got to be able to do it on the road. Good teams can. Good teams execute on the road down the stretch," said Chris Paul, who finished with 14 points and nine assists after committing six fouls in the final period. "Everybody knows what their role is and we got to do better. That starts with me.'' Los Angeles, which last dropped three straight March 20-22, will try to avoid losing for a fourth straight time at Philips Arena before returning home for six of seven. The Hawks (7-4), meanwhile, kick off a five-game homestand after matching their longest winning streak from last season with Friday's 101-91 victory over Charlotte. Al Horford finished with a team season-high 26 points and 13 rebounds as Atlanta improved to 5-1 since an 89-76 loss at the Clippers on Nov. 11. "I feel like when we play through me a lot of the times it opens up things for other guys as well,'' Horford said. One of those guys is newcomer Kyle Korver, who is averaging 14.8 points and has hit 21 of 38 from 3-point range since the Clipper loss. He has nine total 3s and 16 points in each of the last two games. Atlanta has 59 assists on 82 field goals during that stretch after Jeff Teague handed out a season-best 12 on Friday. "We're starting to find ourselves and figure out where our spots are on the floor,'' said Josh Smith, who had a season-best eight assists against the Bobcats. The Hawks' last five-game winning streak began with a 107-98 road win over Los Angeles on Jan. 2, 2011 . Atlanta could equal that mark if it continues its strong play on the defensive end. The Hawks are limiting opponents to 89.8 points per game on 41.0 percent shooting since their last defeat. The Clippers are scoring 93.5 points per game - 6.7 fewer than their season average - on 41.8 percent from the field over the last two games. Former Hawk Jamal Crawford has missed 19 of 31 shots during that stretch with 33 points, but he's still the league leader with 19.2 per game off the bench. Crawford wasn't much of a factor in the victory over Atlanta earlier this month, as he finished with 11 points, but it didn't matter as the Hawks totaled their fewest points of the season. Blake Griffin, who is averaging 17.7 points and 8.7 boards on the trip, finished with a season-best 36 points and eight rebounds in the Clippers' last trip to Atlanta, a 109-102 Hawks win on April 24. Los Angeles, loser of five of six visiting the Hawks, hasn't swept this season series since 2005-06.
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