It took him a half to adjust to Atlanta's defensive schemes, but once he did, Griffin put on an aerial show in the third quarter. He used his strength to overpower Josh Smith, and then adjusted midair to avoid Smith's length and timing. Nonetheless, his defensive effort was poor, he pouted too much after non-calls, and his double-double was not reflective of his impact (or lack thereof).
There's no denying the fact that Paul has lost a step, but it couldn't have been more evident than Wednesday against an athletic Hawks squad. He barely got into the lane, rarely created his own shot and basically scored only on open 3-pointers. He has been on and off as of late, but Paul was clearly off on Wednesday. In fact, the Clippers were a much better team with Eric Bledsoe on the floor.
More Mo Williams, less problems. The Hawks clearly game-planned to limit Paul's and Griffin's offensive effectiveness but had no answer to the quick first step or running floater of Williams. The Clippers' sixth man is the only consistent and reliable source of offense on a defensive-minded second unit, and the results show. There's no reason why he shouldn't close out every game.
In an inspiring trend, the Clippers' second unit continued its impressive play. Its energy, defensive intensity and hustle changed the dynamic of the game. The second unit even went toe-to-toe with Atlanta's starting lineup for good portions of the second and fourth quarters. If the starters are not going to perform up to their expectations, expect Vinny Del Negro to keep playing his bench players more.
The Hawks were playing the second of back-to-back games but still managed to make it a somewhat competitive contest from start to finish. They didn't take advantage of the matchup problems their wings posed -- no Clippers' defender could guard Smith or Joe Johnson one-on-one -- but they were able to overload on Paul and Griffin and force other Clippers to score. If only they could catch the ball.