Clippers reserves spark rally, Kawhi Leonard closes door with threes to beat Hawks
LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, Terance Mann added a season-high 21 and the Los Angeles Clippers rallied from a 22-point deficit in the second half to snap the Atlanta Hawks’ eight-game winning streak with a 119-110 victory Monday night.
Luke Kennard made all eight of his shots and scored all of his season-high-tying 20 points in the second half for the Clippers, who fell behind 88-66 in the third quarter shortly after a frustrated coach Ty Lue put in a small lineup of five reserves.
“With the team that we have, we know that we’re capable of making some comebacks,” Kennard said.
With Mann and Kennard spurring the comeback, Los Angeles ended the game on a dominant 53-22 run.
“I think we realized over the past few games that energy is one of the things that works for us,” said Mann, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter. “When we’re hustling, rebounding the ball and showing personality, it’s made us open up our eyes.”
Trae Young had 28 points and eight assists, and John Collins scored 23 points in the Hawks’ first loss of March, and their first under new coach Nate McMillan. Atlanta’s winning streak was its longest since January 2015.
“I thought we just started celebrating,” McMillan said. “They made some adjustments, they went small, and we just lost our focus and didn’t finish this game. ... We lost our composure.”
After Lue emptied his bench because he said he was “looking for life,” a lineup without All-Stars Leonard and Paul George shockingly trimmed the deficit to single digits. George finished with a season-low eight points, but the Clippers didn’t need him.
“I think it’s definitely one of the most fun games I’ve been a part of in my basketball career,” Kennard said. “That’s top two, if not at the top. The group that was in, and then just hearing the guys on the sidelines, the way they were cheering us on as we made that run, that’s what it’s all about.”
After Mann hit the tying layup with 4:25 to play, he drilled a 3-pointer with 2:42 left to give Los Angeles its first lead of the second half.
Leonard’s decisive 3-pointer with 1:23 left capped a 50-20 surge by the Clippers, and the superstar added another on the next possession for a flourish on the stunned Hawks.
“We’ve gone through this before,” Young said. “We’ve done a great job recently of closing out games. You’re not going to be perfect all season, but it felt like we had a real good chance of closing this one out.”
De’Andre Hunter scored eight points in 21 minutes for Atlanta in his first game since Jan. 29. He missed 23 games while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.