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Clippers rout Hawks for second straight blowout

Feb 8, 2009 - 4:01 AM ATLANTA (Ticker) -- After enduring a miserable season, the Los Angeles Clippers have finally hit a high note.

The Clippers trounced the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, 121-97, for their second straight win - giving the team back-to-back wins for just the second time all season. Not only that, but for the second night in a row, it wasn't even close.

Al Thornton scored 31 points and Zach Randolph added 25 as the Clippers got another big offensive effort. In Friday's blowout victory over the Grizzlies, they set a season high in points and a franchise record with 16 3-pointers. Saturday's effort was every bit as dominant.

"It's very important for us to get on a roll, because we've been struggling all year," Thornton said. "To come in here and get back-to-back wins, it feels good. Hopefully, we can carry this momentum into the break."

Los Angeles jumped on Atlanta early with a 15-2 run in the first quarter and never looked back. The Clippers' only other winning streak was three consecutive victories from December 12-16.

"It's been a while (since our last winning streak). We need all the wins we can get," Randolph said. "It feels good. We have a lot of energy tonight and play hard. Everybody had a great game."

In this one, the Clips shot 57 percent (49-of-86), dished out 38 assists and committed just six turnovers. Once again, it was an abnormal showing for a club that came into the night as the worst-shooting group in the NBA - and the third-lowest scoring.

"We moved the ball really well tonight," Clippers guard Ricky Davis said. "We just kept the momentum that we had last night in Memphis. The entire team got involved and everybody executed well tonight."

Perhaps Randolph's return to the lineup has made an even bigger difference than previously anticipated. The rangy but erratic forward, acquired earlier this season from the New York Knicks, helped provide the Clippers with a scoring presence in the post through the first three weeks of December as they began to show noticeable improvement.

But he missed the next five weeks with a right knee injury before finally returning this week. His abilities have seemingly made the difference yet again.

"Zach Randolph was able to contribute and give us some good minutes," L.A. head coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Tonight was as close as we've been to our normal rotation in a long time. We were moving the ball, getting clean looks and getting good shots."

At 6-9 and 260 pounds, Randolph is unique in his ability to shoot from long range - having hit a combined seven 3-pointers the last two nights.

That has helped spread the floor for the talented but unproven Clippers, who brought in Baron Davis and Marcus Camby during the offseason but have seen things go from bad to worse. The last two nights, however, have provided a glimpse at a much more explosive unit.

"That's two nights in a row for us scoring over 120 points. Tonight we got good minutes from our guys," Dunleavy said. "I think our ball movement was a big key tonight. We attacked the rim and we took good shots."

The Hawks welcomed back leading scorer Joe Johnson, who missed the last two games while battling the flu. But the team lost point guard Mike Bibby, who sat out with a sprained foot.

"It was tough. Still battling a little bit of the cold," Johnson said. "If I would have known that we were going to stink it up like this, I would have come in my suit."

After a porous first half, the Hawks came out scorching after the break, cutting their deficit to just eight in a matter of two minutes.

But the Clippers were there to match them every time - and as the third quarter rolled along, they simply had too much range for the Hawks. They knocked down three 3-pointers in a three-minute span - including two from Randolph - to push their lead to a comfortable 84-67.

"We weren't ready to play," Hawks forward Josh Smith said. "We both had back-to-back games, but I feel like we should have used that to our advantage. We should have been pushing the ball more than we did. They were able to penetrate our interior and find open people for open shots."

Johnson and Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 17 points each and Josh Smith added 16 and 15 boards.

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