ATLANTA – About 10 minutes into Saturday’s matchup between the Clippers and Hawks at Philips Arena, it looked like the Clippers had recovered from their two-game swoon.

Blake Griffin, who raced out to arguably his most prolific first quarter of the season, had just connected on a one-handed pass from the mid-post to DeAndre Jordan in the lane. Jordan finished the play off with an up-and-under layup to give the Clippers a seven-point advantage and the scoring woes from the second half a night earlier appeared long gone.

But the Hawks responded and after two extended runs proved too much to overcome the Clippers were sent home from their four-game road trip with a 104-93 defeat.

The Clippers (8-5) have lost three games in a row, including two straight by double-digits, despite Griffin’s 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

“It’s terrible, a terrible road trip for us, especially with all of them being winnable games,” Chris Paul said. “Oklahoma City: we had a shot to win the game; Brooklyn: we were up at halftime, should have won that one; This one: we were capable of winning. It’s bad, especially for the team we want to be. We can’t let this happen.”

The Hawks (8-4) led by as many as 27 points and took advantage of the Clippers bench, which was outscored 20-0 in the first half.

“We reacted instead of being the aggressors and hitting first,” said Jamal Crawford, who had 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting.

Difference Maker: Zaza Pachulia. Before the game, Hawks head coach Larry Drew said he hoped a “bigger lineup” would be effective against the frontline of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

The big starting frontcourt of Pachulia, Al Horford and Josh Smith was far more effective against the Clippers than in the previous meeting in Los Angeles. The group was led by Pachulia. He made jumpers, prevented the Clippers from duplicating their recent success on the glass, and provided a presence inside to match Jordan’s interior presence. He had 19 points on 7-of-9 shooting and collected 12 rebounds (three offensive).

Moment of Truth: The opening of the second quarter. Atlanta turned a 24-21 deficit into a 15-point lead against the Clippers bench. It was a turnabout for L.A.’s second unit, which has made an early-season habit of overwhelming opponents and either getting the Clippers back in the game or extending leads.

Atlanta’s run started at the end of the first quarter on a 19-footer by Ivan Johnson and ended more than 7 minutes later when Griffin hit a step-back jumper with 5:22 left in the second. It was a stretch of 18 consecutive points for the Hawks that included baskets from Pachulia, Jeff Teague, Anthony Morrow and Lou Williams.

Stat Line of the Night: Paul. After back-to-back subpar games by his standards, Paul put together one of the most well-rounded statistical nights of his career. He scored 19 points with seven assists, five rebounds and seven steals and helped initiate the Clippers’ offense that jumped out to a 24-19 lead in the first quarter. It is the eighth time Paul has managed such lofty totals in all four stat categories.

More Stats: 

Jeff Teague. The other Wake Forest alum in Saturday’s game showed why Atlanta made him the full-time starter at point guard last season. He used an array of floaters and pull-up jumpers in the lane to open things up and finished with a team-high 19 points with 11 assists.

Bledsoe. Cutting straight to the chase, Bledsoe had one of the more remarkable put-back dunks you’ll ever see. He came down the center of the lane, grabbed a missed 3-point shot by Matt Barnes and threw down a two-handed dunk over the back of Josh Smith. The play was reminiscent of Griffin’s dunk over Pau Gasol April of last season with the defender’s rebounding position deemed irrelevant by the athleticism of the finish. Bledsoe had 12 points for the game, all in the fourth quarter, and played a large role in helping cut Atlanta’s 27-point lead to 11.

Hot: Griffin was making effortless jumpers from a standstill, turnaround bank shots, reverse dunks and even converted a gorgeous behind the back pass to Willie Green for a layup in transition. In his last two games at Philips Arena Griffin has scored 58 points on 26 made field goals.

Griffin had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists in the first 12 minutes of the game.

Not: Caron Butler. Butler has struggled the last two games since returning from a strained right shoulder. On Saturday, the Clippers’ small forward went 1-for-6 from the floor in 25 minutes. In the last two games, Butler is 4-for-15 shooting.


On fourth quarter comeback attempt:

Matt Barnes: “It’s just a little too late. We can’t until the fourth quarter to start playing, no matter who we’re playing, especially when we’re not at home.”

On where the game was lost:

Paul: "The game got away from us real quick. We got off to a good start and in the second quarter they sort of jumped on us."

On defending the perimeter against the Clippers and holding them to 42.7% shooting:

Lou Williams: “We wanted to make them make shots over people, just to contest as much as we possibly could. I think we did a really good job of that, just trying to make those guys shoot over a lot of hands, and it worked out for us.

On what can be learned from road trip:

Griffin: “Just not get too high. We started off with that win in San Antonio and down the stretch we kind of expected to make plays and we can’t expect that. We have to turn it on from the beginning and not rely on guys like [Paul] and [Crawford] to close out the games.”

Notes: The Clippers bench scored 34 points in the second half and despite being held scoreless in the first 24 minutes, they outscored Atlanta’s bench by three… The Clippers had 13 steals. It’s the seventh time in 13 games they’ve had 10 or more… The Hawks outscored L.A. 64-36 in the second and third quarters combined… Crawford was 5-for-5 from the free throw line, extending his streak to 36 consecutive free throws made, one shy of his career best... Crawford also converted his NBA record 33rd career 4-point play in the fourth quarter.