Paul on Clippers loss to Hawks: ‘We’ve got to get better all around’

The Clippers’ roller coaster was at the bottom of another agonizingly stomach-churning dip on Monday.

They’re up, down and all around, and one consistent thing is that the Clippers have been inconsistent.

The Clippers held a 2-point halftime lead over the first-place Eastern Conference Atlanta Hawks, but the second half was all Eastern Conference-leading Hawks and dunks and stuff in a 107-98 Atlanta victory at Staples Center. The Clippers had 21 turnovers and missed 18 of 25 3-pointers, and Atlanta made 13 3-pointers.

It seemed cruel that the Clippers defense took a turn backward since Dennis Rodman was watching from behind the Clippers bench.

"Defensively, we have no presence right now, on the ball, off the ball, we’re late in rotations," said Chris Paul. "A lot of that is me, trying to contain these guards on the ball. We’ve just got to get better all around."

DeAndre Jordan feels he and veterans need to set the tone defensively.

"You see it in spurts of us having the right tools to be a great defensive team and also there are times when we look like we don’t know what we’re doing," Jordan said. "I feel that starts with me and a lot of guys who have been here before. A lot of it is us being down in our stance and being ready. I feel we were a second late on everything tonight. That’s why they got a lot of easy looks."

Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague scored 23 and 20 points, respectively. Paul, who had the responsibility of guarding fellow Wake Forest alum Teague, played just 33 minutes because of foul trouble.

The Clippers (23-12) are a disappointing 7-9 against opponents that had a winning record when they played. Atlanta – which has won 19 of its last 21 games – is responsible for two of those losses.

"I think that we’re a good team, we just have to get through the whole season," Doc Rivers said. "Many teams in the Western Conference have struggled against good teams. That’s just the way it is. It’s tough to win when you turn the ball over the way we turned the ball over. We missed wide open shots. I didn’t mind that. I thought both teams did."

Blake Griffin didn’t think too much should be gleaned from the Clippers’ struggles against winning teams, even though the season is nearly at the midway point.

"It’s probably too soon (for concern)," Griffin said. "We’ve got a lot of basketball left to play and a lot of time. We still have 3 1/2 months and a lot of basketball. This moment in December or January is not the time to give up and think that we are really in trouble. We just have to find it."

Usually, Doc Rivers speaks to reporters first after games, but on Monday, Paul spoke first. Rivers said he was talking to a couple of guys.

Asked what the mood was like in the locker room, DeAndre Jordan said: "You’re a little ticked off any time you lose a basketball game, especially a game that you feel you had the opportunity to win. I feel it should wake us up more and let us know what good basketball teams are doing and how we need to take another step or two steps in order to be able to compete at the highest level every night. We need to wake up a little bit and know that everything is around the corner."

Jordan – whom Doc Rivers called "Rodmanish" last month – surely impressed as he became the first NBA player in history to score 15-plus points and add 16-plus rebounds, 3-plus blocks, 2-plus steals and shoot 100 percent from the floor, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jordan made all seven of his shots.

Asked about that, Jordan took a closer look at the stat sheet and then said he probably had a text message waiting from his grandmother, who celebrated her 80th birthday at a Clippers game recently. He said he would’ve rather have a win, however.

But with the turnovers – Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick each having five – and defensive lapses, the Clippers were on that stomach-churning part of the roller coaster again.