ATLANTA — With the Clippers booked into cavernous Philips Arena to play the lowly Atlanta Hawks on a cold and rainy Monday night, discriminating Georgians let out a collective yawn and mostly didn't bother venturing out.
Only 8,508 turned out -- that was the official count, anyway; the actual crowd probably was about one-third of that -- so if the Clippers were looking for energy as they continued an eight-game trip, they would have to find it from within.
Elton Brand, not surprisingly, provided much of it, helping the Clippers overcome the loss of Corey Maggette in a 101-95 victory that capped their first season sweep of the Hawks since the 1975-76 season, when they were the Buffalo Braves and Bob McAdoo was their energizer.
"There was no crowd," said Brand, in a playful mood after finishing with 22 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. "I didn't know whether to take it as a slight toward me or not. I thought they'd want to come out to see me. ...
"We just had to keep our heads and bring our own intensity."
These days, it doesn't take much more to defeat the Hawks.
They beat the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, but they haven't won consecutive games all season, and if they make it to season's end without doing so, they'll match a record set in the 1986-87 season by guess who? The Clippers, of course.
The Clippers, who won Saturday at Orlando, hadn't won consecutive road games since November and hadn't won at Atlanta since 1994, losing eight in a row. They had already defeated the Hawks short-handed once this season, without Brand on Nov. 11 in Staples Center.
This time, they finished them off without Maggette, who suffered a sprained right ankle in the second quarter when he landed wrong after being fouled by Jacque Vaughn on a drive to the basket. Maggette made two free throws to give the Clippers a 39-34 lead, hobbled painfully toward the locker room and didn't return.
Without their leading scorer, who they said is doubtful for Wednesday night's game at Boston, the Clippers gave up 13 consecutive points later in the quarter but rallied to close to within 50-49 at halftime.
They led through much of the second half, putting the Hawks out of reach when Brand scored three consecutive baskets -- on a tip, a layup and a baseline jumper -- after the home team had narrowed it to 89-87.
"I just wanted that ball, just to try to take us home," Brand said.
Brand took them to victory, but he had plenty of help.
Marko Jaric had 20 points, seven rebounds, five steals and three assists. Quentin Richardson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and reserves Chris Wilcox and Eddie House combined for 29 points, 18 on eight-of-12 shooting by Wilcox.
"We said to ourselves when we came out, we couldn't play down to the look of the crowd and the energy that was out there," said Richardson, who came over to the scorer's table during an early timeout and said, "It's like a ... church in here."
"We figured that was something they were used to ... so it was important for us to come out and jump on them, knowing they wouldn't get much help from the crowd."
The Clippers had planned to practice today in suburban Boston but changed their plans when they discovered that the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots' victory parade would pass right in front of their downtown hotel. "With 500,000 people out front, trying to get to practice might be an issue," Coach Mike Dunleavy said. The team will practice instead at a nearby health club. ... The Clippers didn't seem too hopeful that Brand's name would be included when All-Star reserves are announced today. "I think people are going to lean toward [players on] teams with better records," Dunleavy said. "But we'll see." Said Brand: "It comes out tomorrow?"