The Atlanta Hawks continue to have more than their fair share of doubters. They also continue to pick up victories.
The Hawks look to wrap up their brief road trip Monday night with an eighth straight win against a Western Conference opponent as they square off with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Atlanta (25-8) has rattled off 18 wins in 20 tries and can extend its current run to five games in Los Angeles before heading home to face Memphis. The Hawks silenced an equally hot Portland team 115-107 on Saturday to push their win streak against the superior West to seven.
"We just kept saying, `Stay solid. Keep playing our game, and let’s go out and get this game,’" Kyle Korver said. "And that’s what we did."
The win moved Atlanta into first place in the Eastern Conference. It marks the latest the Hawks have held the top spot in the East since 1993-94, when they finished 57-25.
The Hawks’ success against the West includes victories over top teams such as Houston, Dallas and the Clippers (23-11). Atlanta downed Los Angeles 107-104 on Dec. 23 behind 25 points and 10 rebounds from DeMarre Carroll and 20 points from Al Horford.
Jeff Teague scored only nine points in that matchup, his only game off the bench this season as he returned after missing three with a hamstring injury. Teague had 12 points in a loss to Milwaukee three days later, but has averaged 24.0 points, 8.0 assists and shot 53.3 percent during Atlanta’s winning streak.
Los Angeles has won four of five since falling to the Hawks, with the only defeat coming against Toronto. The Clippers most recently demolished Philadelphia 127-91 in the fifth game of a nine-game homestand.
Chris Paul had 24 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds in just 30 minutes. No one played more than Paul, and Los Angeles’ bench outscored Philadelphia’s 57-16.
"They played with more energy, for sure," coach Doc Rivers told the Clippers’ official website. "That was terrific. I thought we got off to a great start and we kind of went into a lull. In the fourth quarter, we stretched it, which was great."
DeAndre Jordan will play in his NBA-high 275th consecutive game Monday. Jordan, who leads the league with 13.6 boards per game, has recorded 19 or more in half of his last six games, including a 22-rebound performance against the Hawks.
Blake Griffin and Paul led Los Angeles in scoring for that defeat with 21 and 19 points, respectively, but Atlanta drained 12 of 23 3-pointers.
The Clippers were 21st in the NBA defensively before Christmas, allowing 101.3 points per game, but they’ve held opponents to an average of 92.4 over the past five.
"For us, we just have to keep getting better," Rivers said. "Even if you don’t get better, you have to win a game. Every night, the game’s about us, it’s about playoffs, it’s about everything."
Atlanta has lost its last three road meetings with the Clippers, most recently falling 109-108 on March 8.