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Blake Griffin stays true to form, but so do Clippers in 107-98 loss to Hawks

The rookie forward gets 31 points and 15 rebounds, his 21st consecutive double-double and 10th straight game with at least 20 points and 10 boards. But L.A. melts down yet again in the second half.

January 03, 2011|By Lisa Dillman

Blake Griffin's basketball transition from 2010 to 2011?

Seamless.

He closed the year with a double-double, and he opened 2011 with yet another double-double.

Consistency is in the air. Unfortunately, for the Clippers, this specific brand of consistency falls in the category of second-half collapses.

Call it subterranean second-half blues.

They led the Hawks by 16 points in the second quarter, let the lead drop to 11 at the half and gave it up for good with six minutes remaining.

The Hawks wound up winning, 107-98, Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith combining for 51 points and Jamal Crawford scoring 24 off the bench.

Griffin had game highs of 31 points and 15 rebounds for his 21st consecutive double-double, and his 10th straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. Eric Gordon was well off his season average of 23.8 points, scoring just 10. DeAndre Jordan had 12 rebounds and six blocked shots.

But the Clippers (10-24) unraveled with 19 turnovers, and have lost back-to-back games for the first time in more than two weeks.

"I told them that an 11-point deficit is nothing in the NBA," Hawks Coach Larry Drew said. "Teams come back from even bigger deficits."

Clearly, the man has been watching Clippers games.

Unlike Wednesday's loss to Utah, in which the Clippers essentially dropped off a cliff in the third quarter, this one was more a steady drip, drip, drip of mistakes, turnovers and missed shots. It didn't all happen at once.

"We just didn't respond the right way," Griffin said. "They were down at half obviously so they came out and they were ready to play and we didn't match that.

"Not to say we didn't play hard. They just came down and chipped into our lead, piece by piece by piece."

Said Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro: "The game came easy to us in the first half. Once they locked up a little defensively, [they] got a little more physical. We have to learn to take our game to the next level in terms of the intensity. And we haven't done that yet — consistently."

They led by seven points with less than nine minutes left and couldn't close, as the Hawks went on a 15-2 run to take a 91-85 lead. The Clippers pulled to within two points but Baron Davis, who had 15 points and five assists, missed a layup with 2:25 remaining and they never got closer than that.

Johnson had 29 points and scored 11 of them in the fourth quarter. Crawford and Smith each had nine in the fourth, as the Hawks outscored the Clippers, 37-24, in the period.

"We missed a couple of easy baskets. We turned the ball over a little bit," Gordon said. "It was a mixture of everything where we just let down a little bit defensively.

". . . We've been making progress and it seems like they really wanted us to go to the big men and then force the bigs to shoot the ball instead of all the guards. That's why you didn't see too many outside shots being hit."

Gordon, who got into foul trouble in the first quarter, was three for 14 from the field and missed all five of his three-point attempts.

"They really didn't want me to get in the paint tonight," said Gordon, whose season low of nine points came in Game 3 against Dallas on Oct. 31. "They really keyed in. I really didn't get too many open looks. That's why I was looking for open guys. They seemed like they wanted those guys to shoot."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

twitter.com/reallisa

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