There have not been many positives this season for the Atlanta Hawks, who enter Wednesday’s home contest against the Los Angeles Clippers with just three victories. But the Hawks have been competitive against some of the better teams in the NBA, including an 11-point loss at San Antonio on Monday, and rookie John Collins is grabbing attention with his performance after scoring 21 points with nine rebounds off the bench.
“We’re a little short-handed,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the loss, citing a lower-back injury sustained by Luke Babbitt and Mike Muscala’s absence as a chance for Collins to gain additional playing time. The Clippers can attest to struggling in the early season, bringing to Atlanta a nine-game losing streak after Monday’s 107-85 defeat in New York. “Bottom line, we just can’t sustain anything,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers told the media afterward. “Right now, we get it going a little bit and one thing happens and it just implodes.” The Clippers’ guard play was not strong Monday, as Austin Rivers, Lou Williams and Jawun Evans combined to shoot 5-for-25 from the field.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (5-11): Center DeAndre Jordan ranks second in the NBA in rebounding at 13.7 per game and is one of 12 NBA players currently averaging a double-double (10.3 points). Williams is averaging 17.1 points off the bench, but Los Angeles is 1-11 since opening the season with four consecutive victories. Blake Griffin, the Clippers’ leading scorer (22.7 points), finished with a team-high 21 points Monday before fouling out.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (3-14): Atlanta’s last four games have featured a one-point loss, a franchise-record 46-point victory, and close calls against Boston and San Antonio. Collins, a first-round draft pick from Wake Forest, is averaging 11.6 points and 7.4 rebounds on the season and is shooting 72.1 percent from the field in his past five games. Dennis Schroder leads Atlanta in scoring at 19.7 points per game, while second-year forward Taurean Prince has reached double figures in four of his past five contests.
1. Clippers G Patrick Beverley scored nine points with six rebounds Monday, returning after missing five games with a sore right knee.
2. Atlanta is third in the NBA in steals (9.0 per game) and 10th in assists (22.9).
3. Los Angeles is 2-6 on the road this season, and plays four of its next six away from home.
PREDICTION: Hawks 108, Clippers 100