GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. HAWKS - 12/4/13
Game #19 | December 4, 2013
Philips Arena | Atlanta, GA
ATLANTA – Prior to the start of the Clippers’ seven-straight games away from home, Head Coach Doc Rivers stood in the hallway inside Philips Arena and said he never comes up with a number of wins that would constitute a positive trip.
“7-0,” he said. “When you lose one, let’s go 6-1.”
One game in and the Clippers are already forced to adjust their thinking.
Outside of a few minutes in the first quarter, they never led Wednesday night at Philips Arena, and lost, 107-97, to the Hawks.
Despite 24 points and seven rebounds from Blake Griffin, 19 points, 11 assists and three steals from Chris Paul and 26 points off the bench from Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison, the Clippers (12-7) were never really able to gain traction in the road trip’s opener.
“We’ve got to step it up, man,” Paul said. “This is a long road trip. All we talk about is getting off to a good start and this is not a good start.”
Nor was it a good start for them in Wednesday’s loss, their second in a row. The Clippers trailed Atlanta (10-10) by as many as 17 and were out-gunned from 3-point range by 24 points. Twenty-seven of Atlanta’s 42 field goals were on dunks, layups or threes.
“We were horrible on defense,” Rivers said. “Tonight, we weren’t good individually and we weren’t good [in team defense]. But that’s okay. We had a clunker tonight but we’ve been improving.”
Still, after trailing by double digits for most of the third quarter, the Clippers finally found a way back in it early in the fourth quarter. Paul made a jumper from the right elbow that cut the Clippers’ deficit to five, and 23 seconds of solid defense nearly forced Atlanta’s second shot-clock violation of the period. But Lou Williams flung up a desperation 3-pointer with Paul swarming him three steps behind the line. The shot extended it to 82-74 and the Clippers never again climbed closer than seven.
“It was one of those nights,” said Crawford, who finished 5-for-12 with 13 points in his third game in Atlanta since he played for the franchise. “It felt like we couldn’t get any stops, honestly. It seemed like whenever we’d make a run we could never get it closer than six. Then six became we could never get it closer than nine.”
That was seemingly a combination of the Hawks’ proficiency; they went 12-for-23 from 3-point range and had three players top 20 points, and the Clippers making errors at crucial moments. They pushed the ball ahead after a long rebound by Paul and in an attempt to answer Williams’ long 3-pointer two possessions later, but Crawford’s 3-pointer was waved off after an illegal screen by Ryan Hollins. There times when they would stop the Hawks on the initial possession and a rebound would get tipped out to Kyle Korver, who scored a season-high 23 points, for an open jumper from long range. And then after missing on one end, they’d get beat down the floor, or give up an open driving lane, or commit a loose-ball foul.
“It’s very frustrating. It’s obviously frustrating just to lose a game, frustrating in the manner in which we lost,” Griffin said. “I feel like every time we lose we put ourselves in a huge hole. I feel like a majority of [our losses] have come that way.”
The Clippers were down just 13-11 when Atlanta put together a 14-2 first-quarter run that essentially turned out to be the difference. The Clippers did not lead after going up 8-7 on a jumper by Willie Green, who started his second game in place of J.J. Redick (hand/wrist), and were down by a dozen before the end of the first.
As a whole, the first half was a microcosm of the Clippers’ defensive problems. They failed to get stops, nabbing only one steal, and couldn’t get out on the break. They had just two points in transition.
“It’s tough to get in a rhythm as a group and it’s tough to get easy baskets when you’re always taking the ball out of the net,” Crawford said. “You can’t get transition points, if you can’t keep them on their heels because they’re scoring every time.”
The Clippers have lost five games in a row in Atlanta… Korver’s first quarter 3-pointer extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one 3-point field goal made to an NBA-record-tying 89 games. He went 6-of-9 from 3-point range in the game… L.A. was 4-for-19 from 3-point range (21.9 percent). In their two games without Redick, the Clippers are 8-for-34 (23.5 percent)… Griffin’s league-high active streak of 12 double-doubles in a row came to an end. It was the second longest such streak of Griffin’s career… DeAndre Jordan had a game-high 13 rebounds, including four on the offensive glass…. Although the Clippers lost for the second time in a row, they have yet to lose three in a row this season. Since Paul arrived in 2011-12, they have never lost more than four straight and have endured just five streaks of three losses or more…
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on making in-game adjustments:
“Maybe I’ve got to make an adjustment in games like this because I thought they got everything they wanted all night. I just think we didn’t play with a lot of force defensively.”
Clippers guard Chris Paul on finding a defensive identity:
“We’ve got to find our defensive identity. That starts with us in the locker room. We know what to do. We’ve just got to stop talking about it and just do it and figure out how to stop teams.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin on team’s offense:
“I thought we got shots, we just didn’t hit shots. We have guys that are plenty capable of hitting shots. Obviously, it hurts not having J.J. [Redick] but Willie [Green] can shoot the lights out.”
Hawks guard-forward Kyle Korver on beating the Clippers:
“That’s one of the best games we’ve played so far this year. A lot of people played well; inside-out, people were shooting the ball, we played with pace. When we do that, we can be a really good team. I’m just hoping we can build on those habits.”
Hawks forward Paul Millsap on his team’s defensive strategy against the Clippers’ big men:
“The (scouting report) was (defending) the lobs and limit the plays at the basket and limit the transition plays. We were able to do that. If you do that, you stop a lot of those plays.”