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Clippers-Hawks Preview (Jan. 2)

Posted By Taylor Smith On Jan 2 2011 @ 12:29 pm In Los Angeles Clippers | No Comments

Since getting off to an abysmal 1-13 start this season, the Los Angeles Clippers have been able to right the ship a bit.

Los Angeles has gone 9-10 since that point, and has won five of its last seven games.

Rookie Blake Griffin has continued his dominance of the Rookie of the Year “race”, averaging 21.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game this season. Griffin has also recorded 20 consecutive double-doubles.

The Atlanta Hawks enter the game with a record of 21-14, good for fifth place in the Eastern Conference behind Boston, Miami, Chicago and Orlando.

Guard Joe Johnson, who signed the most lucrative contract of any free agent this past summer, has struggled compared to his standards, averaging just over 17 points per game on miserable 40 percent shooting from the floor, including 26 percent from three-point range. He missed over two weeks of action with an elbow injury in December.

Johnson will likely be matched up against Eric Gordon, the Clippers’ leading scorer, averaging 23.8 points per game.

Travel has been tough on the Hawks of late, as they’ve lost six of seven away from home since December 10.

While Atlanta’s offense has struggled a bit, their defense has been able to keep them in contention.

The Hawks rank eighth in the league in terms of points given up per game, and tenth in opponent field goal percentage.

Last season, Atlanta took both games from Los Angeles.

The Clippers have improved on defense as well, and have held five of their last seven opponents under 100 points.

However, limiting opposing big men will be a key for Los Angeles.

In their last game, Jazz big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap combined for 43 points and 19 rebounds.

It won’t get much easier with Josh Smith and Al Horford, a pair of Eastern Conference All-Star candidates, coming to town Sunday afternoon.

Tip-off is at 12:30 PT.

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