Clippers beat Hawks to snap nine-game skid
ATLANTA — It took a triple-double from Blake Griffin and a season-high scoring effort from Wesley Johnson for the Los Angeles Clippers to put an end to their nine-game losing streak.
“Man, we needed that,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said with a sigh before talking to the media.
The Clippers had three players score at least 20 points, including a season-best 24 from Johnson, to beat the Atlanta Hawks 116-103 on Wednesday at Philips Arena.
It was the Clippers’ first win since Nov. 1 against the Dallas Mavericks.
“It’s been awhile,” Rivers said. “It was good. We needed a win. We got one. Now we get to have Thanksgiving.”
Griffin said: “I feel like after every loss, I keep saying, ‘It’s going to come. We just have to stay focused.’ The best part about tonight was how we got the win. Guys just focused and did the little things we needed to do to win.”
Griffin had 26 points on 9-for-19 shooting, and also finished with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Atlanta native Lou Williams added 20 for the Clippers (6-11), and Austin Rivers scored 18.
“That’s what (Griffin) can do,” Doc Rivers said. “He’s not going to be a scorer every night because teams are going to take that away from him. But if they’re taking that away from him, he can be a passer and he can do other things. I thought he did that tonight.
Johnson entered the game averaging only 6.8 points, but he shot 8 of 10 from the field and matched his career-best with six 3-pointers.
“He shoots like that in practice all the time,” Griffin said. “He’s playing with confidence.”
The Clippers were 15 of 30 on 3-pointers, far better than their 34.9 percent season average.
“It was open shots and it was off ball movement,” Doc Rivers said. “Austin made a big one, and that was on a late clock, but the rest were off ball movement.”
Atlanta (3-15) got 20 points from Marco Belinelli, 16 in the first half, and 19 points and seven assists from Dennis Schroder. Dewayne Dedmon scored 17, Kent Bazemore scored 14, and rookie John Collins had 14 points and 10 rebounds in his first career start.
“I just had to go out there and calm my nerves and play the way I usually play,” Collins said. “I think I did a solid job of that, but I’d like to do a little bit better.”
The Clippers opened the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run, and Atlanta never got closer than five points. Austin Rivers scored eight points in the fourth quarter and made two 3-pointers, one of them to restore an eight-point lead and put a stop to Atlanta’s comeback.
Los Angeles led by as many as seven points in the first quarter before Belinelli shot them back into the game. The veteran was 5-for-5 from the field and scored 11 points in the opening period, which the Hawks ended on top 30-29.
Atlanta led by as many as six points in the second, but the Clippers hung tough behind the outside shooting of Johnson, who made three 3-pointers and scored 15 points in the half. The Hawks led 63-62 at halftime, with Belinelli scoring 16.
“We have to be a lot better defensively,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Even being up at halftime, a point, both teams scored 60-plus in the half. We weren’t able to maintain that pace offensively.”
Atlanta used back-to-back 3-pointers from Bazemore and Schroder to take a 76-69 lead with 7:48 left in the third quarter, but the Clippers outscored Atlanta 19-8 and led 88-84 after three quarters.
“A lot of guys played well, but we have to do more to be disruptive, more to make it difficult on them,” Budenholzer said. “It’s hard to see 58 percent from the field defensively. We have to work to get better on that end of the court.”
NOTES: Los Angeles PG Patrick Beverley had season-ending microfracture surgery to repair his right meniscus on Tuesday night. Beverley had missed five straight games with the knee trouble, but he came back to play Monday at New York. Beverly, in his first season with the Clippers after spending five years in Houston, averaged 12.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists. ... The Hawks were without F Mike Muscala, who missed his ninth game with a sprained left ankle. They recalled PG Josh Magette from the G League, where he was averaging 11 assists. ... The Clippers will remain in Atlanta to celebrate Thanksgiving as a team before flying to Sacramento, where they play on Saturday. ... The Hawks play Friday at home against New York. ... Atlanta fan Mickey Bonds won $10,000 when he made a shot from half-court during a halftime promotion.