Hawks Charged, But Couldn’t Overcome Early Deficit In Loss To Clippers

ATLANTA — Things are looking up for the Los Angeles Clippers, who won for the first time since losing Chris Paul to thumb surgery and are on the verge of getting Blake Griffin back.

Austin Rivers scored 27 points and Jamal Crawford helped hold off a comeback bid by Atlanta in the fourth quarter as the Clippers defeated the Hawks 115-105 on Monday night.

Crawford, who had been in a slump, hit a 3-pointer after Atlanta had pulled within 102-98 with three minutes left and followed with two more late baskets as he scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half.

The Clippers (30-16) made 14 of 24 shots from behind the 3-point arc. Rivers was 5 of 10 and JJ Redick hit 3 of 4 while scoring 17 points.

Kent Bazemore had 25 points for the Hawks, 19 of them in the second half, and Dennis Schroder scored 21. Paul Millsap had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Atlanta (26-19). Dwight Howard contributed 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Clippers had lost their first two games after losing Paul for six to eight weeks, falling to 2-7 without the point guard and Griffin this season.

Griffin has missed more than four weeks after knee surgery but should return Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The Clippers led by 24 points early in the third quarter, but the Hawks got the deficit down to 85-75 at the end of the quarter as Howard scored 10 points and they started to find their shooting touch.

The Clippers stretched a 30-21 lead after the first quarter to 22 points by midway in the second quarter and led 58-40 at halftime.

Rivers scored 10 points in the first quarter and had 14 when he limped to the locker room with two minutes left in the half to have the left ankle he had turned landing hard on a drive taped.

The Clippers hit 8 of 14 3-point attempts before intermission, with Redick making 3 of 4 en route to 13 points.

The Hawks shot just 32.5 percent from the field in the first half and were 4 of 14 from behind the 3-point arc.

NOTES: F Blake Griffin, who missed his 18th straight game since arthroscopic knee surgery, is on track to return to the Clippers’ lineup on Tuesday against the 76ers in Philadelphia. Griffin, who last played on Dec. 18, is averaging 21.2 points, 8.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists. … Going with a smaller lineup, the Clippers started G Raymond Felton instead of F/C Marreese Speights. … Hawks C/F Mike Muscala missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle sustained against Milwaukee on Jan. 15. … It was the final contest of a three-game homestand for the Hawks, who play at Chicago on Wednesday before returning to Atlanta for weekend tilts against Washington and the New York Knicks. … The Clippers are in a stretch of five consecutive road games. After the contest in Philadelphia, they are off until playing at Golden State on Saturday.

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