NBA Game Summary - Atlanta at LA Clippers
(Wednesday, January 30th)
Final Score: LA Clippers 95, Atlanta 88
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Al Thornton exploded for a career-high 33 points and made two key blocks in the game's final 15 seconds as the Los Angeles Clippers staved off disaster, besting the Atlanta Hawks 95-88 after nearly blowing a 20-point fourth quarter lead.
Thornton compiled his career-best night with a 13-of-20 shooting performance in just 33 minutes off the bench as the Clippers brought their three-game losing skid to an end. Sam Cassell and Tim Thomas each scored 14 points in the win.
Cuttino Mobley and Quinton Ross each poured in 12 points for Los Angeles, which was without starters Chris Kaman and Corey Maggette. Kaman is nursing a bruised right shin and flu-like symptons, while Maggette is also suffering from flu-like symptoms.
"I was really sick yesterday," Thornton said. "But, today I feel a lot better. With Chris (Kaman) and Corey (Maggette) out I tried to play hard and step up for the team. I was able to get into a rhythm and the rims started to get wide. Everybody stepped up defensively tonight."
Josh Smith finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta, which lost its third straight game and for the seventh time in eight games overall. Joe Johnson contributed 17 points, while Al Horford collected 14 points and 10 boards.
After trailing by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter, the Hawks caught the Clippers resting on their heels and begin to quickly hack away at the deficit. Two free throws from Horford followed by buckets from Acie Law, Josh Childress and Smith cut the lead to six with 1:07 left.
Smith then capped off the 11-0 run, converting a three-point play with 46 seconds remaining to make the score 91-88.
Atlanta had a chance to draw closer in the final half-minute, but Thornton rejected Law's drive with 13.8 seconds left, then Cassell hit a pair of free throws to put the Clippers up 93-88 with 12.7 ticks left on the clock.
After Thornton blocked Johnson's jumper with seven seconds to go, Ross hit another pair from the charity stripe with 0.8 seconds left to remove any doubt from the outcome.
"We're in a funk as a basketball team," said Hawks head coach Mike Woodson. "I have to find a way to get them out of this funk. We're not in a position to take anyone lightly."
Atlanta led by as many as seven in the first quarter after a Childress layup made the score 15-8 with just under five minutes left in the period. The Clippers then went on a 12-4 run to take a one point lead on a Cassell runner with 1:28 left, but Childress hit another layup 15 seconds later to give the Hawks a 21-20 lead after one quarter.
Los Angeles took control in the second quarter with a 13-5 run late in the frame that saw Thornton score the Clippers final six points during the stretch to take a 42-35 lead with just under three minutes left before intermission.
Atlanta battled back within five when Childress slammed home an alley-oop pass from Johnson with 1:24 left in the half, but Aaron Williams answered with a layup less than 30 seconds later to send the Clippers to the break leading 48-41.
The Clippers continued to hold the Hawks at bay throughout the third quarter, though an early 7-2 run brought Atlanta back to within four after a Josh Smith dunk just over three minutes in, but after a timeout, Cuttino Mobley immediately drained a jumper to put Los Angeles back up six, 58-52.
Thornton continued to help the Clippers pull away in the third, soaring through the lane for a monstrous dunk with 1:15 left in the quarter to give the Clippers a 72-60 lead. The rookie from Florida State then hit a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds left in the quarter as the Clippers held their largest lead to that point, 74-61, at the end of three quarters.
The Clippers continued to pour it on early in the fourth, as Thornton scored the first five points of the period, followed by a slam from Mobley that gave Los Angeles an 81-61 lead before Atlanta got on the board in the quarter.
Thornton's previous career high was 25 points against San Antonio on December 22...The Clippers begin a seven-game road trip Friday at Minnesota...The Hawks return home for a four-game stretch starting Saturday against New Jersey...Thornton was averaging just 8.6 points per game entering the contest...Atlanta's two-game winning streak over the Clippers came to an end.
01/31 01:27:50 ET