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Atlanta 97 - Clippers 80

The Clippers 12th consecutive loss was probably the ugliest of the streak since the first one, way back on December 20th in Milwaukee.  The team was never sharp at any point in the game, against an Atlanta team that didn't look particularly good either.  In the preview I said I thought the Clippers had a chance to win this one - and they did.  Atlanta did their part, but the Clippers didn't show up. 

It was one of those games where the Clippers were playing terribly but the opponent was too, so it stayed close for a long time.  It was pretty obvious that whichever team found even a semblance of rhythm on offense would pull away.  And each time it looked even remotely like it would be the Clippers who would get their act together, they would make some sort of monumental mistake, and instead of cutting into the lead, suddenly the lead would grow a little more:

  • Like when they were down by seven late in the second quarter, and Eric Gordon missed a layup all by himself and the Hawks scored 6 straight to expand the lead to 13.
  • Or late in the third quarter when they cut it to five (the closest they got in the second half), and then gave up a wide open Flip Murray three when they came out of the timeout in a zone and immediately blew the wing coverage.  (I went back and watched that Murray three a couple of times - the two Clippers at the top of the zone, Jones and Gordon shift to the right on the first pass, and as soon as the ball is passed back to the left, Murray is wide open.  I'm no basketball coach, but I'm pretty sure the zone is not supposed to break down after three passes around the perimeter to guys standing in one place.  Just dreadful defense.)
  • Or early in the fourth when they had a chance to get the lead back under 10, but a fast break for the Clippers turned into a turnover and a dunk for the Hawks - and the lead went up to 13.

In addition to those momentum killers, the Clippers displayed more than their share of just plain bad basketball. 

  • They shot atrociously, especially in the first half when they were 28%. 
  • They began the game 0 for their first 6 - with all five starters getting a chance to shoot, and none of them came close. 
  • Camby threw the ball away on consecutive possessions early in the third quarter. 
  • Fred Jones suffered an 8 second backcourt violation when the game was not yet out of reach. 
  • The team as a whole could not find it in themselves to get a stop in the fourth quarter, and couldn't get a rebound when the Hawks did miss. 

The two bright spots were Marcus Camby's 18 rebounds (which we've frankly come to expect) and the fact that Al Thornton had a good game offensively (or more accurately, a good second half).  He was aggressive going to the basket, and he scored with a variety of moves.  The Hawks really couldn't find anyone who could stop him, and they tried Marvin Williams and Josh Smith and Joe Johnson.  Unfortunately, he was the only one who had much of anything working.

This shorthanded crew has at least been playing hard, nonetheless losing some close games to some good teams.  But it must surely be wearing on them, and we may have seen some of the fraying tonight.  They really need to get Randolph and/or Baron Davis back soon because in this game they looked like a team that is demoralized and down.  This losing streak may not end before they get some reinforcements in.