Hawks vs Clippers: Game Recap – ATL Falters Late to LAC

November 11, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers small forward Caron Butler (5) guards Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) in the first half at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Atlanta Hawks came into Staples Center with a 2-2 record, but knowing they have had a significant chance to be 4-0, owning leads in the fourth quarter of every game. Against Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers in the first game of a four game West Coast road trip, it certainly would not be easy.

After going 6-19 from the field, 1-5 from the line, and admittedly letting his team down Friday night against the Miami Heat, Josh Smith was determined to be more efficient saying:

I have to be better offensively for this ball club. As a leader I have to be more efficient. I have to be better at the free-throw line. I apologized to all my teammates because that was just a poor effort offensively by me. I mean it is a tough task to give energy on both ends of the court but I have to be more efficient. And I will be more efficient.

After the Clippers went on a 6-0 run to start the game, the first half was a back and forth affair. The second quarter never saw a lead greater than 3 point for either side. At the halftime buzzer, it was a low scoring affair with neither team cracking 40 points.

There were early free throw woes for the Hawks, posting a paltry 1-6 effort from the line in the first half for the 25th ranked team (.732) in free throw percentage coming into Sunday. Combine that with a team that gets to the charity stripe less than all teams except for the Washington Wizards, and a disturbing trend starts to emerge.

The second half was more of the same from the free throw line (7-16 overall) but sadly was no longer a wire-to-wire contest by the middle of the third, when the Clippers took a 56-53 lead behind a Caron Butler long two.

Turnovers eventually disrupted any chance at a comeback. The Hawks gave it away 22 times, including 10 in the fourth quarter which led to a 13-0 run for the Clippers to seal the game in the middle of the last quarter. Los Angeles finished with 6 players in double figures, including former Atlanta Hawk Jamal Crawford. The final score read 89-76.

John Jenkins, the 23rd overall pick from Vanderbilt, had his first opportunity of the season in garbage time. He hit first shot and finished with 6 points. Mike Scott, the second round pick, also made his debut for the Atlanta Hawks.

Josh Smith did a better job of staying in the paint for easy looks, but occasionally roamed outside for 3 ill-advised three pointers, despite hitting one. His poor free throw shooting notwithstanding, he went away from his “Mid-Range Shawty” moniker, as shown by his shot chart. If he can build upon a performance when he was determined to defeat opponents from the paint, the shots will fall and Josh will be a force to stop.

Next on the road trip is a journey up to Portland to face off against LaMarcus Aldridge and the Trailblazers.

Topics: Atlanta Hawks

Want more from Soaring Down South?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.

TEAMFeed More Hawks news from the Fansided Network

Hot on the Web From golf.com