Hawks hope to fare better against Clippers at Staples Center
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LOS ANGELES -- Staples Center has been something of a house of horrors for the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Atlanta Hawks are not about to sing the building's praises either.
The Hawks will face the Clippers in L.A.'s venerable arena on Monday, coming off a demoralizing 132-113 defeat to the lowly Los Angeles Lakers there on Sunday.
It is not as if the Clippers are completely without victories in their shared home with the Lakers, but they also have losses there, and not necessarily the ones that are tracked in the standings. The Clippers have been crushed by injuries all season and the significant ones seemed to have occurred at home.
The latest came Saturday in a defeat to the Golden State Warriors, when All-Star forward Blake Griffin took a JaVale McGee elbow to the forehead. Griffin has entered the NBA's concussion protocol and is not expected to play Monday.
The Griffin setback comes 5 1/2 weeks after the team leader suffered a sprained knee in a game that forced him to miss a month. The injury occurred at Staples Center. Griffin was playing in his fifth game since returning.
The Clippers could also be without guards Austin Rivers (ankle) and Milos Teodosic (foot), and forward Danilo Gallinari (glute). Each member of the trio was also injured in separate games at Staples Center.
"I've never had this, like this, but that's the way it's been," veteran Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "That's all we have to talk about right now. It's been tough, it really has. I really don't check injuries because I don't know anymore. I just want to know the guys that are playing."
Conversely, the Hawks (10-29) are looking at their second game in two nights at Staples Center as a place to get healthy. They have now lost three consecutive games, all on their current West Coast swing, and four of their last five.
The Hawks have also lost 11 of their last 14 games and head into Monday's matchup with a defensive rating of 108.1, according to NBA.com, with only four teams in the 30-team league worse. Eight Lakers players scored in double figures against the Hawks on Sunday.
Dennis Schroeder, who arrived in L.A. leading the Hawks with 19.6 points and 6.7 assists per game, had scored 34 combined points in defeats against Phoenix and Portland to start the trip. He was just 12-for-31 (39 percent) from the field in those two games, the first of 2018 for the Hawks.
"I think there were times in the game that we were competitive and times in the game when we were making enough plays on both ends and we need to keep that momentum, keep our heads up," Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters after Friday's defeat at Portland. "... Hopefully we can learn from it and get better."
As a team, they didn't. Schroeder rebounded with 27 points in Sunday's game, shooting 10-of-23 from the field (43.5 percent), but eight Lakers scored in double figures as the Hawks gave up their most points of the season.
Without Griffin for an unknown number of games, not to mention everybody else who is missing, the Clippers (17-21) will lean on the dynamic scoring ability of Lou Williams, who the team prefers to use as the sixth man off the bench.
If Williams continues to come off the bench, as he did Saturday against the Warriors, the Clippers could be looking at a starting lineup Monday of Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker at forward, DeAndre Jordan at center and Jawun Evans and C.J. Williams at guard.
"It sucks when somebody goes down, especially another starter," Jordan told reporters after Saturday's defeat. "But (Harrell and Lou Williams) and those guys have played well for us and (Dekker) is playing a lot better. Whenever something like this happens, or guys get in foul trouble, these guys are ready to play. But you never want to see anybody go down."
Updated January 8, 2018