Vivlamore reporting from Los Angeles.
Lob City turned into Turnover City for the Hawks.
Atlanta committed a season-high 22 turnovers, 10 in the fourth quarter, en route to an 89-76 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday at a sold old Staples Center. Many of those turnovers led to uncontested layups as the Clippers went on a 26-5 run between the third and fourth quarters. Devin Harris hit a 3-pointer late in the third to put the Hawks up by one point, 60-59. Then 10:24 later, the Hawks trailed by 20 points, 85-65.
Hawks coach Larry Drew said his team lost its composure.
“I thought our guys followed our game plan for two and a half quarters,” Drew said. “Midway into that third quarter, it’s like we totally forgot what had put us in the position we were in. As I told them, on the road we have to be consistent, we have to be on the mark with all of our coverages.
“We knew coming into this building we knew one of the things we needed to do was take away momentum plays. We did that for the most part, but late in that third quarter we totally abandoned what was good for us for two and half quarters.”
The Hawks had just seven points and nine turnovers in the first 8:39 of the fourth quarter.
“Fourth quarter was a disaster,” Zaza Pachulia said. “It was full of mistakes. It’s sad that you are playing so well for three quarters and one quarter you throw it all away in the ocean. This should be a good example for our team.”
The Hawks (2-3) lost their second straight game and the first on a four-game West Coast road trip. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 13 points, but they came on 6-of-14 shooting. He missed all four free-throw attempts. For the season, Smith is 26-for- 66 (.394) from the field and 2-for-14 (.143) from the free-throw line.
Al Horford and Lou Williams each added 11 points for the Hawks.
“Those guy played the passing lanes,” Smith said. “They are a gambling team. Give credit to them, the plays they gambled on they succeeded. That kind of gave them momentum in that fourth quarter which hurt us.”
The Clippers (5-2), winners of three straight, placed six players in double-figure scoring. Blake Griffin had 16 points followed by Chris Paul (15), Caron Butler (13), Eric Bledsoe (12), Jamal Crawford (11) and Matt Barnes (10).
Free throws were hardly an issue for just Smith against the Clippers. The Hawks combined to shoot 7-for-16 from the line. In fact, the Hawks had two more 3-pointers than free throws. On the season, the Hawks are shooting 54-for-81 (.667).
“We couldn’t make a free throw,” Drew said. “You have to make free throws on the road. That’s the bottom line. .. You have to step up, concentrate and knock it down.”
For the first time this season the Hawks’ bench failed to outscore their opponent’s bench. The Clippers’ reserves held a 35-32 advantage.
The Hawks did manage to hold the Clippers under 100 points, snapping their streak of six games to start the season over the century mark.
The Clippers got physical with the Hawks late in the game and it had an impact, according to Drew.
“We got sped up with the pressure and then we let the officiating bother us a little bit,” Drew said. “As I told them, we can’t play any road game with the mindset that during that game there are going to be calls that they might not like. That cannot affect their play. Tonight, we let some calls get us a little out of character. You can’t play like that on the road. You have to be solid. You have to be focused. We lost focus at the end of the third quarter.”
The Hawks road trip continues against Portland Monday night.
* Rookies John Jenkins and Mike Scott made their season debut. They entered the game with 3:21 remaining after the Clippers took a 20-point lead. Jenkins made 2-of-4 shots to finish with four points. Scott missed both his shots.
* Guard DeShawn Stevenson did not play. The veteran was held out because the Hawks play again Monday and the plan is not to play him in back-to-back games.
* The Hawks started their big lineup of Jeff Teague, Kyle Kover, Smith, Horford and Pachulia. It was the first time the team duplicated a starting lineup this season.
* Center Johan Petro was inactive for the fifth straight game.
* The sellout was the 55th straight for the Clippers. The Staples Center also hosted a Lakers game later in the evening.
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