LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Theo Ratliff scored 18 points for the Atlanta
Hawks but his biggest play came on defense.
Ratliff made a critical block on a driving layup attempt by
Quentin Richardson in the final minute as the Hawks beat the Los
Angeles Clippers 89-87 Saturday night, ending a four-game road
Lamar Odom's layup cut the Hawks' lead to one with 1:37 left,
and the Clippers had a chance to regain the lead after Ratliff was
called for an offensive charge on a drive against Richardson. But
Ratliff rejected Richardson's driving layup attempt with 59 seconds
to go, and Odom missed a short jumper in the lane in the final
"It's a great luxury to have him back there -- but, on the other
hand, we've also been sending him a lot of work,'' Atlanta's Darvin
Ham said. "He helps everyone on the floor. And knowing he's back
there, that in turn should make us more aggressive and be more
focused on stopping our man individually.''
One reason they shied away from the paint was the looming
presence of the 6-foot-10 Ratliff, who entered second in the league
in blocked shots per game and had at least six in each of his
previous nine contests.
Ratliff swatted away Lamar Odom's layup less than 2 1/2 minutes
after the opening tip -- his only block in the first half. Odom got
a measure of payback less than two minutes later with when he
dunked over Ratliff, who finished with three blocks.
"It can't be a necessity for him to keep having to block
shots,'' Ham said. "We have to take ownership of the perimeter
with our individual defense and step it up a little.''
The Hawks are 10-18 since Terry Stotts replaced Lon Kruger as
head coach on Dec. 26. They were 11-16 when the coaching change was
"It's always tough for someone to take over a team in the
middle of the season, but the last 10 games we've definitely been
playing better,'' Robinson said. "We've been in ballgames and
we're learning more and more how to win. We're playing better
offensively, moving the ball better and playing better with each
Down by five at the start of the fourth quarter, the Clippers
pulled ahead 78-76 on a layup by Richardson and a 17-footer by
Brand with 7:02 left.
The lead changed hands three more times before Richardson tied
it at 85 with a 3-pointer. But Jason Terry responded with a 3 17
seconds later, giving Atlanta the lead for good with 2:27 to play.
Terry finished with 14 points and six assists.
The Hawks used a 16-4 run to turn a six-point deficit into a
63-57 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Robinson had
six points during the spurt, capping it with a pair of free throws.
Odom and Brand each scored 11 first-half points and the Clippers
led 48-44 at halftime. Los Angeles used a 13-0 run to build a 27-16
lead after one quarter. Brand was 7-for-16 in 44 minutes and had
"He's played the way he's played since he walked into the
league,'' Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. "I mean, you can mark
down 14-20 points every night and 8-14 rebounds every night. That's
what he does, and he's been pretty consistent night in and night
"The thing that I've told him is that he's got to look at Karl
Malone's game and try to get to the point where he can consistently
make shots, get out and run, and be able to post up and score in
the low post.''
The Clippers played without Corey Maggette (sore left
groin) and Keyon Dooling (strained left arch). ... Atlanta F Alan
Henderson has played four straight games without a turnover,
extending his streak to 71 consecutive minutes. ... Hawks F Chris
Crawford underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left
knee Friday. He has played in only 12 games since the start of last
season, when he tore the ACL in the same knee and missed the final
75 games. ... Terry has gone a season-worst 10 straight games
without a double-double. ... Atlanta has committed more turnovers
than their opponents in eight straight games.
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