No defense, no championship. Apparently, the Los Angeles Clippers now get that, even though they stumbled in that regard Saturday when they were beaten 107-97 by the Atlanta Hawks before a sellout of 19,236 at Staples Center.The numbers prove it. Since Dec. 26, the day after the last game Blake Griffin played, the Clippers were third in the NBA in defensive rating (99.6 points/100 possessions) ahead of Saturday. Prior to that, they ranked 14th, allowing 101.2 points per 100 possessions.Once Griffin went down with a partially torn quad tendon – he later fractured his hand – the Clippers had no choice but to play better defense. But coach Doc Rivers said the team still needs better defensive trust.“I think our defense, obviously, the numbers tell you it’s light years (better) from what it was earlier in the year,” Rivers said before tipoff. “But I still think we have a trust barrier to get over the next phase. I think they now know we can be a good defensive team. “But I think what we’ve got to get to when things aren’t going well, they still know we’re a good defensive team. And I think playing on a couple of teams – in New York, at least – as a player, you know you’re great when a team scores 120 and you think it’s a fluke. You question it.”The Clippers led by as many as 17 points early in the second quarter, but did not play well the rest of the way and took just a 55-50 lead into halftime. The Clippers trailed by a point at 80-79 entering the fourth quarter. The game was tied 90-90 with six minutes to play.Afterward, Rivers was asked what happened after his team earned that 17-point lead.“I thought it was the last four minutes in the first half,” he said. “I thought we lost that lead, they cut it to five and I thought they came out in the second half with more energy, quite honestly.”Chris Paul scored 17 points and doled out 11 assists. But he scored just two points in the second half and finished 6 of 16 from the field. The same question was posed to him. “We just let them back in it,” he said. “… I had some bad turnovers tonight, low energy and I think a lot of the credit has to go to Atlanta, fighting to get back into the game, and we just let this one go.”The Clippers had a total of 19 turnovers. Paul had four of them.The Hawks ((35-28) utilized the Hack-a-DJ strategy and it resulted in DeAndre Jordan shooting 17 free throws and making seven. The Clippers were 17 of 28 overall from the free-throw line, for 60.7 percent. The Hawks made 17 of 20 (85 percent).“The biggest thing whenever teams do that is we have to defend,” Paul said. “So what happened was our defense let us down tonight.”Rivers said the ploy helped the Hawks.“It was effective tonight,” he said. “Overall, it has not been effective. I thought they did a good job. Every time they had a lead, they used it, and that is the way it is supposed to do it.”The Clippers (40-21) had won three in a row. They fell 1 1/2 games behind third-place Oklahoma City in the Western Conference standings.Jordan also scored 17 for the Clippers and had 11 rebounds, five blocks and four steals; the Clippers were outrebounded 53-41. Jeff Green scored 14 – just two in the second half – Paul Pierce and Austin Rivers each scored 11 and J.J. Redick had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting.Jordan was pulled with 3:48 to play – he went back in with 1:18 left – after he had missed 3 of 4 free throws during a span of just more than a minute. He did not complain about that. He did spell out why he believes his team lost.“We had (energy) in the beginning of the game,” he said. “We have to have it for 48 minutes, and we didn’t.”The Clippers shot 43 percent, the Hawks 44.9.Jeff Teague led Atlanta, which has won four of five, with 22 points and seven assists. Paul Millsap scored 20 and grabbed 18 rebounds, Kent Bazemore scored 17, Dennis Schroder 16.Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was stoked.“It is very satisfying to play so well at the end of the game, especially against a team that is playing as well as the Clippers have been,” he said.It was just one game, and the negative result shouldn’t take away from all the positive strides the Clippers have made on defense. Clippers point guard Paul is known as one of the better defenders in the league at his position. He likes what he’s seen. But like his coach, he believes the team can improve upon what it’s done over the past 30 games, during which the Clippers had gone 23-7 without Griffin before Saturday.“I think we can be better,” Paul said. “That’s something we concentrate on day in and day out in practice, is defending. We always say we can control that. We can’t control whether or not we’re going to make shots or not, so I think we’ve just gotta keep focusing on our principles and get better every day.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
Hundreds of South Floridians joined thousands of others across the state in filing insurance claims for damage from Hurricane Dorian, even though the storm did not make landfall here.According to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, about 4,000 claims had been submitted statewide through September 16. Of that number, 908, or 23 percent, were filed in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.Michael Peltier, spokesman of the state-owned Citizens Property Insurance Corp., says, “Most of the damage we are seeing is from downed limbs and that sort of thing. Generally speaking, if something [tree limb, fence, etc.] was already weak, it could sustain damage under Dorian conditions.”The information released by the state does not offer any details on the type or severity of the claims.Dorian remained about 100 miles offshore and brought wind gusts up to 41 mph through South Florida, and 44 mph around Jacksonville and Daytona Beach.Peltier explains that although sustained winds were lower along the coast when Dorian was near, a gust of wind is all it takes to break a tree limb over a house.More than half of the insurance claims filed – 2,288 of 3,961 – were for residential damage, while 156 were for commercial property damage.Another 1,500 were for miscellaneous coverage, which includes fire, marine, auto, aircraft, industrial, crop and surplus lines.