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Clippers 87 - Pacers 64

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I praised the Clippers recent defense going into this game.  So all they did was go out set a franchise-record by holding the Pacers to 64 points.  And unlike last season's Hornets game, where a poor defensive first half effort was followed by NBA-record-setting defense in the second (16 points total), in this game the Clippers held the Pacers below 20 points in all four quarters.  It's tempting to devalue the defense record simply because the Pacers played so poorly, but you have to give credit where credit it due.  Heck, it's not easy to hold any NBA team to 64 points, even a really bad one.

Kaman over O'Neal
Kaman
                  © Henry Chen, all rights reserved
In the absence of Sam Cassell and Shaun Livingston, Daniel Ewing started his second straight game with 10 day contractor Will Conroy as the backup.  Ewing responded in this game with eight points and five steals (part of a Clippers season-high 13) and Conroy led the team with 6 assists in 17 minutes.  By the way, I really like this guy.  Just his enthusiasm alone is terrific.  After he assisted on Chris Kaman's and-one in the fourth quarter, he gave the fist pump and the 'get on your feet people' and that's exactly what the people did.  Anybody who has that sort of reaction to a bucket he ASSISTED on is OK in my book.  If he has a nice long NBA career, he'll probably become inured to it all - but right now, the guy is just fun to watch.  I wish he had made one of his free throws to get that first NBA point.  (By the way, I know Jason Hart is more established.  But Jason Hart?  Really?  Let's keep Conroy.  Maybe I should start a petition.)

Brand had another slow first half, but stepped up in the second.  Chris Kaman continued his strong 'post-bronchitis' play with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Corey Maggette had one of those games that seems almost impossible - 20 points on 6 shots, and he also had 4 assists and only one turnover.  All of this in 22 minutes because of foul trouble and an early beginning to garbage time.  Wow.  (By the way, more than anything else, the presence of Corey on the court with Korolev and Davis and even Alvin Williams earlier in the season was a sign of disrespect that I found infuriating and I can only assume Corey felt the same.  Why MDsr treated him like dirt before the trade deadline, only to give him the respect he has earned after the deadline passed is an irony I can't really fathom.  There will be a long post on this subject soon.)

Like I said, the Pacers were not good.  Jermaine O'Neal was a complete non-factor, and clearly his knee is hurting him.  Danny Granger made you think that Yaroslav Korolev was a good draft pick (OK, not really).  Troy Murphy was 2 for 8, including an airball.  Other than Jamaal Tinsley and Mike Dunleavy Jr, no one was any good.

PacerTom left a gracious Diary here on ClipsNation after losing a bet on this game.  Check it out, and then check out Indy Cornrows to get his take on what's really wrong with the Pacers.

A huge challenge comes to Staples on Monday.  The Clippers haven't played well against good teams since the first week of the season, and they have played particularly poorly against the Spurs.  If Cassell's groin keeps him out again, it's hard to imagine that they can beat the Spurs, who are the second hottest team in the league right now.  But I would settle for another strong defensive effort, even in a loss.