LA Clippers struggle against Eastern Conference opponent

Kawhi Leonard couldn't carry the LA Clippers against the Hawks
Kawhi Leonard couldn't carry the LA Clippers against the Hawks / Harry How/GettyImages

The LA Clippers were supposed to bounce back in Sunday's contest against the Atlanta Hawks. Instead, they got bounced around. Now, the Clippers look like one of the coldest teams in the NBA. 

This one was never particularly close. The Clippers lost by a final score of 110-93. The Hawks beat them in virtually every facet of the game. 

The Clippers entered this contest as heavy favorites. They're supposed to be the better team. Meanwhile, the Hawks were on a three-game losing streak heading into the game. 

What happened? 

LA Clippers couldn't contain young Hawks stars 

Jalen Johnson is a strong candidate for this season's Most Improved Player award. Last night, he showed the Clippers why that's the case. Johnson had a fantastic night in every facet of the game. 

He finished with 18 points on 7/14 shooting from the field along with 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Johnson overwhelmed the Clippers with his athleticism and fluidity. Their frontcourt players had no means of containing him. 

He wasn't the only Hawk to excel last night. Dejounte Murray had 21 points on 7/14 shooting and 10 assists. With such strong performances from Atlanta's best players, the Clippers were left without an answer. 

After all, they didn't get similar performances from their best players. 

LA Clippers' stars come up short

James Harden made his return for the Clippers last night. Unfortunately, he didn't give a vintage performance. Sure, Harden finished with 9 assists, but he also finished with 9 points on 3/10 shooting. 

None of the Clippers were particularly efficient. Kawhi Leonard had 28 points on 8/17 shooting, and Paul George went for 26 while shooting 9/20 from the field. That's acceptable efficiency from both players, but neither was able to take over the game with their scoring. 


LA Clippers' offense looked stagnant 

At least Harden got his teammates involved. No other Clipper finished with more than two assists in the game. In the end, they had 17 helpers to the Hawks' 32. 

That likely explains the gulf in shooting efficiency between these two clubs. The Hawks shot 48.8% from the field, and the Clippers shot 37.8%. 

The Clippers' offense looked stagnant. There was far too much ball-watching. Extra passes were not made, and mediocre shots were forced. 

Hopefully, they can bounce back against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, March 20.