But by letting an intense defense be their guide, the Clippers rolled to a 99-84 victory over the Hawks on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Now they can all rest easily, knowing they extended their winning streak to four games by playing the game in front of them.
It was their last game before the All-Star break this weekend in New Orleans. The Clippers have a week off before playing at Golden State on Feb. 23.
DeAndre Jordan, who had 16 rebounds and seven points, will be the Clippers’ lone representative in the All-Star contest Sunday and in the dunk competition Saturday.
“We didn’t want to come and think this was our last game before the break,” Jordan said. “We wanted to come out and just kind of build some momentum, keep some from last game.”
The rest of the Clippers will head to vacation spots to rest their bodies and to get ready for the stretch drive of the final 26 regular-season games.
But before they departed, they got 17 points, nine assists and five rebounds from Blake Griffin, 15 points from J.J. Redick and 13 from Austin Rivers.
When the Clippers return for practice either Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, they must make sure to bring back the same stifling defense they have had on display the last two games.
It was the second straight game the Clippers have held an opponent under 90 points.
They also limited the Hawks to 40.5% shooting from the field, 26.9% from three-point range. They forced the Hawks into 23 turnovers. They had 18 steals.
“Our defense last game I thought was a lot better than it has been recently,” Jordan said. “And tonight we just picked up where we left off in Utah, coming out and being physical, limiting guys to one shot, making it hard for them to catch it.”
The Clippers stayed sharp from behind the three-point line, shooting 37.8% (14 of 37).
Redick was at his best form long distance, going five for eight from three-point range. Wesley Johnson wasn’t bad either, going three for five from three-point range to help him score 11 points.
The strong Clippers defensive effort started at the very beginning of the game and was so tough on the Hawks that L.A. forced Atlanta into two 24-second clock violations in the second quarter.
That was a sign the Clippers were not looking beyond Wednesday’s game.
“That’s always kind of a though or a worry, I guess,” Griffin said. “But I thought we were locked in at shoot-around. I thought each game since the New York game, I think we’ve been better and better, especially on the defensive side of the ball. So I was just hoping that we would continue that trend and I thought we did a good job tonight.”