97 - 80 Final
  for this game

Hawks runs Clippers' slide to 12

Jan 15, 2009 - 6:54 AM By John Reger PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Bad won out over awful as the Atlanta Hawks dealt the Los Angeles Clippers a 97-80 defeat on Wednesday.

The Hawks came into the game losers of four straight and five of six and probably would have continued their slide had they not faced the Clippers, who have lost 12 straight.

Los Angeles is one loss away from matching its worst streak since losing 13 consecutive games from March 17-April 11, 2004.

Atlanta trudged to a 43-31 halftime lead, saw the Clippers chip the lead to six after three quarters before settling the discussion by running off the first seven points of the final period.

Neither team came out particularly strong in the first quarter. Atlanta was 6-of-21 (29 percent) from the field, while the Clippers tied their low for points in a quarter with 12 on 4-of-20 shooting.

"Both teams struggled," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "We've been getting off to bad starts, but if the other team is struggling it's anybody's game."

The Hawks did improve in the second quarter, converting 11-of-19 from the field and garnering a 12-point halftime lead. Joe Johnson and Josh Smith each scored 10 points by halftime.

The Clippers tied their low for a half in points as well. This was the sixth game this season the Clippers have not held a lead at any point, though they were tied twice in the first quarter.

"We go through stretches were we have great energy and focus," Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy said. "The frustration level we have is a lot of young guys are not talking on the defensive side of the floor."

Los Angeles did cut the lead to five late in the third quarter on Marcus Camby's jumper.

"They got a lot of easy baskets," Johnson said. "We have to stop that, letting teams get back into the game when we have a lead."

Atlanta, though, boosted the lead back to double digits early in the fourth quarter and was not seriously threatened again.

Smith led Atlanta with 26 points. Johnson added 21.

"I wanted to pick up the slack with us missing Al Horford," Smith said. "I started off rebounding and taking it to the hole and letting the game come to me. Everything took care of itself from there."

Los Angeles, which was without forward Zach Randolph, center Chris Kaman and guard Baron Davis, was led by Al Thornton with 25 points.

"It really depends on how we start off games, we get so down from the beginning, with messy execution," Thornton said. "Our offense tightens up and they get too many easy baskets on us and it hurts. It is definitely frustrating but we need to keep fighting and find a way out of this."

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