ATLANTA — DeMarre Carroll is best known for his ability to turn up the heat on defense for the Atlanta Hawks. But on Tuesday night the muscular forward showed that his offensive skills aren’t lacking either.
Carroll scored 17 of his career-high 25 points in the second half to lead the Hawks to a 107-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, extending Atlanta’s winning streak to five games.
Carroll made 9 of 12 shots, including five 3-pointers, and helped Atlanta overcome a 13-point second-half deficit. He also had 10 rebounds.
“He shot it really well; and, when he’s taking shots and you have Kyle (Korver) on the other wing, they’ve got to keep track of him,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “He can really have a big impact. His offensive game continues to evolve and improve, and on defense he fills us with an energy and a competitive spirit.”
“He makes shots,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said. “We left him open a couple of times probably where we shouldn’t have, and they swung it to him. He made the shot, and we can live with that.”
The Hawks (21-7) also got 20 points and five rebounds from center Al Horford and 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists from forward Paul Millsap.
The Clippers (19-10) were led by forward Blake Griffin (21 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds) and center DeAndre Jordan (15 points and 22 rebounds).
Point guard Chris Paul added 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds, and shooting guard J.J. Redick scored 18 points.
Forward Jamal Crawford came off the bench to play almost 30 minutes and produce 18 points and seven rebounds against his former team.
The Clippers had a chance at the end. Atlanta led 107-104 when Horford made one of two free throws with 6.4 seconds left. After a timeout, the Clippers were able to inbound to Griffin, who missed a well-defended 3-pointer, and the Hawks cleared the rebound as the horn sounded.
Los Angeles has lost three of its last four games.
Atlanta took a 31-25 lead after the first quarter largely because of its ability to score inside. The Hawks scored 18 points in the paint, including six each by Millsap and Harrington. The Clippers were able to stay close thanks to a nine-point quarter by Griffin.
The Hawks continued to press their advantage and had a 40-30 lead with 9:11 left on a runner by guard Dennis Schroder. That’s when the Clippers began to get hot and the Hawks began to get sloppy. Aided by five Atlanta turnovers, Los Angeles went on a 17-0 run to take a 47-40 lead on Griffin’s turnaround hook with 4:36 left. Griffin scored 15 in the first half as the Clippers led 57-50 at the break.
The Clippers extended their lead to 13 points in the third quarter when Jordan scored on a putback with 8:11 remaining. But that’s when Atlanta began to claw back into the game. Sparked by Carroll, who had 10 points in the period, the Hawks tied it at 81-81 on a 3-pointer by guard Jeff Teague with 41.1 seconds left. Los Angeles led 83-81 at the end of three quarters.
“We went through a rough stretch from halfway through the second quarter through halfway through the third quarter,” Budenholzer said. “We were able to right ourselves to win a tough game against at tough ballclub. There are some positives to be taken from it and we’ll learn from our mistakes.”
Budenholzer was effusive in his praise of reserve center Elton Brand and forward Thabo Sefolosha, who came off the bench and provided some key defensive stops. Brand had six rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes and Sefolosha had three rebounds and three assists, along with nine points, in 18 minutes.
The Clippers showed no signs of fatigue, despite playing their fourth game in five nights in five time zones.
“We were there,” Paul said. “They were on the ropes in the third quarter and we had a chance to put them away. Until we put it all together, this is going to keep happening. It’s just little lapses. Doc always tells us that during the game those small plays may seem small, but in the end they’re big plays when you lose by two or three.”
NOTES: Atlanta C Al Horford was named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week for Dec. 15-21. Horford led the Hawks to three road wins and averaged 18.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.7 blocks in 32 minutes. It is the second time he has received the honor in his career. … Atlanta recalled F/C Adreian Payne from the D-League Austin Spurs. Payne averaged 13.4 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 11 D-League games. … C Spencer Hawes (left knee bruise) missed his seventh straight game. He is expected to be able to return on Dec. 27 against Toronto. G C.J. Wilcox was also inactive. … Atlanta G Jeff Teague returned after missing three games with a strained left hamstring, but did not start. F/C Pero Antic did not play because of a sprained right ankle. Atlanta’s inactives were Payne and G John Jenkins. … The Clippers play their next five games at home, starting with a game against Golden State on Christmas. The Hawks host Milwaukee on Friday, part of a back-to-back against the Bucks.
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