ATLANTA — They were lethargic and out of sorts on defense, the sluggishness of such a poor effort weighing down the Clippers.
"We were horrible on defense," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "Our overall defense was pretty poor as a team."
They allowed the Hawks to make 51.2% of their shots, 52.2% (12 for 23) of their three-pointers.
"We just weren't here tonight defensively," Rivers said. "They got everything they wanted all night. I just didn't think we played the game with a lot of force defensively."
Kyle Korver, the NBA's fifth-best three-point shooter at 50%, something the Clippers were fully aware of before the game, still got free to make six of his nine three-point attempts en route to 23 points on eight-for-12 shooting from the field.
He burned the Clippers early, with Atlanta's first points of the game coming on a three-pointer, and he burned L.A. late by making both of his three-point shots in the fourth.
In the process, Korver tied Dana Barros' 18-year-old NBA record by making a three-pointer in his 89th consecutive game.
"I was disappointed in our three-point defense tonight, because that's an area where I thought we had cleaned up and did a pretty good job," Rivers said. "But tonight we were bad."
The Clippers were down 16 points in the third quarter and were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game.
"It's a long road trip, man," Paul said. "We're always talking about getting off to a good start and this is not a good start."
The Clippers just kept having defensive breakdowns.
There was the time they failed to get back on defense, all of them watching Shelvin Mack waltz in for a layup in the fourth quarter.
There was the time late in the fourth when Korver broke free for a three-pointer on which he was fouled by Paul, who threw his hands up because he knew his rotation was far too late.
Korver made the free throw for a four-point play that gave the Hawks a 13-point lead.
"We've got to find a defensive identity," Paul said. "And that starts with us in the locker room. We know what to do. We've just got to do it. We've got to stop talking about it."
Eventually, Rivers pulled Paul and Griffin, knowing that the game was out of reach and that the Clippers have to play in Memphis on Thursday night in a back-to-back against the tough Grizzlies.
"We slipped on defense, but hopefully we're not slipping," Griffin said. "Hopefully it's just a matter of having that mind-set of turning it around. So, I wouldn't say we're slipping."firstname.lastname@example.org