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How the Hawks lost, and could look different after the All-Star break

Five observations from the Hawks’ 99-84 loss to the Clippers Wednesday.

1. The Hawks turned the ball over time and time again. Many were in the form of steals by the Clippers – 18 to be exact.

“There were times when we weren’t sharp enough with the ball, weren’t decisive enough with the ball,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They turned some of those turnovers into easy baskets. Those put you in tough spots.”

Reserves Raymond Felton and Wesley Johnson each had four steals and Austin Rivers had three steals to lead the Clippers. The Hawks had just five steals as a team.

As for total turnovers, the Hawks committed 20 miscues. Kent Bazemore had four and Paul Millsap and Taurean Prince had three each.

“Mostly their pressure,” Millsap said of the turnovers. “They had good pressure on the wings. They got out and denied a few passes. Some of them were careless. I threw a few away. Unforced.”

The Clippers turned the turnovers into easy baskets as they outscored the Hawks 22-14 in fast break points.

2. The Hawks have been susceptible to the 3-point shooting teams much of the season. The Clippers were not different. They finished the game 14 of 37 from 3-point range. However, they were 10 of 20 in the first half when they jumped to the double-digit lead. A 33-18 second quarter all but put the game out of reach.

“That was what put us in the hole was how well they shot the 3-ball in the first half,” Budenholzer said.

3. When the Hawks offense struggles, you can point to the lack of ball movement. They had just 20 assists on 32 made field goals.

“I give them credit,” Bazemore said. “They played well. But we beat ourselves. We have to move the ball. We have to have 25 assists. When we have those types of nights, we are a totally different team. The ball stuck a lot tonight.”

4. The Hawks slipped back into fifth in the Eastern Conference with the loss. They are a half-game behind the fourth-place Raptors, two games behind the third-place Wizards, five games behind the second-place Celtics and 7-1/5 games behind the first-place Cavaliers.

There are 26 games left in the regular season. They Hawks won’t be in a position to make a serious final push if they continue to he win a game and lose a game.

“I know we want to be a better team,” Millsap said. “We dropped a lot of games we felt we should have won. Put ourselves in some tough situations. I think the second half we’ll be a lot better.”

5. The Hawks could be a different looking team when the return from the All-Star break. They host the Heat on Feb. 24, one day after the NBA trade deadline. The Hawks will be active at the trade deadline looking to add to the roster although there are no guarantees they will complete a deal.

In addition, the Hawks are hoping to get healthy after the break. Thabo Sefolosha missed nine straight games with a left groin injury. He said after the game that he still feels tightness after running and hopes the extended time out will help. Budenholzer also hinted that perhaps Tiago Splitter, who has not played all season, will return.

“Our guys will come out of the break, figure out how we can get better, get away from it a little bit,” Budenholzer said. “I think we’ll be healthy coming out of the break, which is a good thing. … We’ll get Thabo back and have all 15 guys healthy and ready to go, we’ll be fortunate that way.”

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