Jeff Teague only gets two chances to face Chris Paul each season, so he wants to make the most of his opportunities.
It took Teague much of the first quarter to find his momentum against Paul, a fellow Wake Forest point guard. Once he did, the Atlanta Hawks were making stops on defense and scoring in transition.
Teague had 19 points and 11 assists, Zaza Pachulia added 19 points and 12 rebounds, and the Hawks won their fifth straight game with a 104-93 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The trick was to keep All-Star Paul on the perimeter and limit how many times he drove the lane for an easy basket or assist.
”I don’t know how we did it,” Teague said. ”He’s a great player. We just made plays and played defense — team defense — and tried to live with those guys making jump shots.”
Blake Griffin scored 22 points and Paul had 19 for the Clippers.
Los Angeles has lost a season-high three consecutive games after winning six in a row.
Lou Williams finished with 18 points and Josh Smith added 17 for Atlanta.
One night after managing season lows in points and field-goal percentage in an 86-76 loss at Brooklyn, the Clippers shot just 42.7 percent from the field. They began the game with the NBA’s third-best shooting percentage, but ended a four-game road trip with just one victory.
”It’s a terrible road trip for us, especially with all of them begin winnable games,” Paul said. ”I think what we’ve learned from it is that it’s not as easy as it looks. That’s where you build your identity at — on the road.”
The Clippers twice closed within six before halftime, the second time coming on Griffin’s dunk at the 1:20 mark, but Los Angeles was all but run out of Philips Arena in the third.
After Willie Green’s layup cut the lead to eight in the first 2 minutes of the third, the Clippers were outscored 18-4. Smith had a big highlight, catching Pachulia’s long pass up the court and dribbling past Griffin for a left-handed dunk that made it 68-50.
Pachulia followed with two baskets, a 16-footer from the left baseline and a putback that gave the Hawks a 22-point lead with 4:06 left in the third.
”He was a warrior, he really was,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. ”He was very physical tonight. Zaza doesn’t have much lift around the basket, but he just throws that body all over the place and somehow gets the shot off. He was really good for us.”
Atlanta never trailed after Teague hit a 17-footer that made it 26-24 early in the second, and Los Angeles’ poor shooting played a big role in its demise. Williams’ 20-footer ended a 16-0 run in the second quarter and gave the Hawks a 37-24 lead.
”We fought our way back, made it a little bit of a game,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. ”At that point everything’s got to go so perfect that it just puts too much pressure on you. Not a good performance overall for sure. The run that they made in the second quarter on our bench changed the tide.”
Teague, who improved to 2-3 against Paul, credited part of the victory with successfully defending the pick-and-roll and forcing Paul and Griffin to shoot more jump shots than they would like.
Another goal was to challenge Paul and Griffin when the Hawks had the ball to wear down the Clippers’ two best offensive options.
”You’ve got to make those guys guard, too,” Teague said. ”If they can just play offense the whole game, they’re going to eat you alive, but if you go at them and make them guard, too, it will make them tired on the defensive end just as well.”
Notes: Hawks G Devin Harris missed the game with a sore big left toe. … Saturday also marked the first time in Teague’s three seasons that he’s had consecutive double-doubles. He finished Friday’s win at Charlotte with 13 points and 12 assists. … Griffin was given a technical foul from the bench early in the fourth, only a couple of seconds after Clippers F Lamar Odum was called for his first personal foul. … Atlanta’s bench outscored Los Angeles’ 20-0 in the first half. … Clippers G Jamal Crawford added to his NBA career record with his 33rd four-point play, hitting a 3 and the ensuing free throw early in the fourth.