Rapid Reaction: Hawks 107, Clippers 97

December, 4, 2013
12/04/13
7:47
PM PT

ATLANTA -- Before the Los Angeles Clippers embarked on their seven-game road trip, Chris Paul smiled when he was asked about the goal of this trip.

"You can’t win them all without winning the first one," he said.

Well, after Wednesday’s 107-97 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Clippers won’t be winning them all. In fact, if they don’t start playing some defense, they might have to wait awhile for their next road win.

The Clippers have constantly battled apathy and defensive lapses when playing lesser teams this season, but Wednesday was one of their worst efforts of the season. The Clippers scored just 70 points through three quarters against the 9-10 Hawks and never seemed into the game.

"We can’t waltz into games. We know that," coach Doc Rivers said. "In this league, if you waltz into any game, you can lose. That’s a fact. Every game is an individual game. I try not to get too high and low with that stuff."

The Clippers don’t have to get too high or too low for games, but whatever middle ground they’re at right now is not working.

How it happened: The Clippers flew into Atlanta on Monday to acclimate themselves to the time change, but that didn’t seem to matter much as the Hawks controlled the tempo of the game. The Hawks led by as many 17 points, and every time the Clippers tried to mount a comeback, Atlanta answered with a 3-pointer. The Hawks hit 12-of-23 from downtown, while the Clippers were just 4-for-19 and 1-for-12 through three quarters from 3-point range.

What it means: Rivers had hoped for a 7-0 road trip -- with six of the games against struggling East teams -- but after dropping the first game, Rivers has to hope a win over the Memphis Grizzlies will propel the Clippers to a 6-1 trip. Either way, the Clippers are now 12-7 and losers of two in a row against Eastern Conference teams.

Hits: Blake Griffin had 24 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, while Chris Paul had 19 points, 11 assists and 3 steals. Those two are usually going to be hits, but for the Clippers to be successful, particularly on the road, they’re going to need the other starters to show up. For the most part on Wednesday, they did not.

Misses: Jared Dudley is an important glue guy on the Clippers, and there will be nights when he will be lights-out from outside, but Wednesday was not one of those nights. Dudley had nine points on 4-for-10 shooting and was 1-for-5 from downtown.

Stat of the game: The Clippers not only allowed the Hawks to score 107 points, but also allowed Atlanta to hit 51.2 percent of their shots from the field and 52.2 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Clippers shot just 21.1 percent from 3-point range, hitting just 4-of-19 from outside.

Up next: The Clippers play the Grizzlies, the team they’ve played in the first round of the last two playoffs. The Grizzlies won their first meeting of the season in L.A., 106-102, as Zach Randolph had 26 points and 15 rebounds and Marc Gasol had 23 points and nine rebounds. Even with Gasol shelved with an injury, the tandem of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will have to play better defensively if they expect the result to be different this time around.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Blake Griffin
PTS AST STL MIN
22.9 4.7 0.8 35.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Jordan 13.4
AssistsC. Paul 9.5
StealsC. Paul 2.1
BlocksD. Jordan 2.4