The road hasn’t been kind to the Atlanta Hawks lately, but it’s been a different story for them at home.
The Hawks go for their fourth straight victory at Philips Arena on Wednesday night when they face a Los Angeles Clippers team that routed them last season in Atlanta.
After losing two straight on the road, Atlanta (30-17) returns home where it is 19-5. The Hawks, who have dropped three of four overall and trail Orlando by two games for the Southeast Division lead, are likely looking for some redemption after falling to the Clippers 121-97 in Atlanta on Feb. 7.
With Mike Bibby(notes) out due to a sore foot and Joe Johnson(notes) back after missing two games with the flu, the Hawks suffered their most lopsided home loss since a 117-89 defeat to Detroit on Jan. 18, 2006.
Al Thornton(notes), a native of Perry, Ga., led Los Angeles with 31 points in last season’s matchup in Atlanta as the Clippers shot 57.0 percent from the field and avoided their third straight road loss to the Hawks.
Los Angeles (21-27) won for the first time in five games Tuesday, defeating Chicago 90-82 to improve to 2-5 on its season-high eight-game trip. Eric Gordon(notes) led the Clippers with 24 points while Chris Kaman(notes) had 21 with 11 rebounds after being sidelined two games with a sprained left ankle.
“Kaman’s our anchor. It’s a big difference when he plays,” coach Mike Dunleavy said of his center. “He defends, rebounds and scores inside and out. When you go through stretches where you need a bucket, he’s the place you can go.
“They have to pay attention to him … and it creates opportunities (for teammates).”
Kaman has missed the Clippers’ last four games versus Atlanta due to injury.
Hawks center Al Horford(notes) probably wouldn’t mind if Kaman had taken more time to return to the lineup. Horford, though, could also present a matchup problem for the Clippers. A first-time All-Star this season, Horford is averaging 14.6 points and 9.1 rebounds as Atlanta has won seven of eight at home.
Josh Smith(notes) looks to continue his strong play against Los Angeles after becoming the youngest player in NBA history to block 1,000 shots in Tuesday’s 106-99 loss at Oklahoma City. Smith, who reached that milestone at 24 years and 59 days old, is averaging 21.4 points, 10.4 boards and 1.8 blocks in the last five games versus the Clippers.
Smith and Horford are the Hawks’ top two rebounders, but the pair is averaging a combined 13.7 in the last three games. Atlanta is getting outrebounded by 7.5 per game in its last four.
“Defensively right now and rebounding the basketball, we’re struggling in those two areas and those are the main two areas that you’ve got to be clicking to win games, especially on the road,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said Monday.
Johnson, who leads Atlanta with 21.7 points per game, has made 7 of 12 from 3-point range in his last three games after hitting 3 of 6 and scoring 37 on Tuesday.
Since he was acquired by the Hawks prior to the 2005-06 season, Johnson is averaging 24.0 points on 48.6 percent shooting in four home games versus the Clippers.
Los Angeles hosts Atlanta on Feb. 17.