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Another comeback and collapse: Three takeaways from Clippers-Hawks

While optimism remains high within the franchise, the Clippers are in serious danger of this season becoming a bust.

Atlanta Hawks v Los Angeles Clippers
Terance Mann of the Clippers and John Collins of the Hawks wrestle underneath the basket.

The Los Angeles Clippers returned home but couldn’t snap their losing streak, making it six straight as they fell to the Atlanta Hawks 112-108.

Tyronn Lue remained optimistic in his post-game press duties, but his mood is becoming less and less reflective of a fanbase still asking questions about whether this team is good enough to achieve its aims this season and even beyond.

Here are the takeaways…

The starting lineup

The Clippers started off well. While there wasn’t a ton of scoring in their starting lineup, having a variation of the ‘Wingstop’ lineup that a vocal majority of fans have been crying out for gave them the impetus on defense that can suffocate opponents.

Terance Mann brought the energy at the point guard position and brought optimism that him playing at the one could be revisited when the team is back to full health, where Paul George would be able to carry that extra offensive burden to set the team up for a run.

What happened from there (twice) was ugly…

That second quarter

This team seems to be getting worse in the second frame of games, and it has become deeply concerning at this point. They gave up 41 points to Atlanta during that period and went away from everything that made them tough to break down early in the first quarter.

Coach Lue’s decision to flip from a big lineup to a five of Jackson-Wall-Powell-Mann-Brown was an absolute momentum killer and once again the deficit they gave up just before halftime proved insurmountable as they tried to run through the tape to end the game.

One decision in particular proved to be the death of the Clippers…

Mann down

The lack of minutes for Terance in the fourth and the decision to ride out a bad scoring night from Norman Powell in particular pulled the rug out from under the team just when they had wrestled the momentum back.

Nobody would begrudge Lue doing some experimenting with the team throughout the season to see what works and what doesn’t. However, the commitment to go away from things that are clearly working in favor of things that definitely aren’t – whether a genuine attempt to fix them or not – is not allowing this squad to get the kind of reps they need to have established come the postseason.

For too long, making the playoffs has been treated like a foregone conclusion by those in and around the franchise, but if they’re not careful the Clippers may find themselves at too much of a disadvantage against the top teams in the West.