Great googly moogly what a finish, huh? After what looked like an extremely dull contest for 36 minutes, the Los Angeles Clippers and Indiana Pacers played a slugfest of a fourth quarter that saw the Clippers hit the finish line in the lead. But only after Indiana missed two chances to win in the final 20 seconds. This game had everything. Stats, unbelievable dunks, stars playing well, C.J. Miles and Lavoy Allen torturing the Clippers yet again, and an insane finish. It could take a while to talk about everything that happened so let's try to get through it.
The game started off with the first basket being made by the Pacers Roy Hibbert on an elbow jumper and the Clippers answered back with a Blake Griffin dunk after an Indiana turnover. After a few exchanges of points, the Pacers found themselves up 7-6 early on but the Clippers answered that with a 13-2 run to pull ahead 17-9. One of the key baskets during that run was a Chris Paul three. Shortly after the run, Matt Barnes went down awkwardly under the hoop and grabbed his knee but ultimately was fine and ended up playing much more later on in the game. The Clippers eventually stretched the lead to 25-16 thanks in large part to a mid-range jumper by Blake Griffin, an alley-oop from Griffin to DeAndre Jordan, and a long two-point jumper by J.J. Redick. The Pacers, to their credit, would not go away and answered that Clippers run with an 11-2 run of their own and ultimately ended up tying the game at 27-27 before Jamal Crawford hit a crucial three to put the Clippers ahead, 30-27, after the first quarter.
The second quarter started out reasonably harmless for Los Angeles as Glen Davis hit a mid-range jumper to put the Clippers up by 5. Doc Rivers made a key change and once again decided to have the bench play with at least one starting big man on the floor. To start the quarter it was Blake Griffin but shortly after the start of the quarter DeAndre Jordan checked into the game to replace him. Chris Paul came back in with about 7 minutes to go and the Clippers took a 38-37 lead on a Jamal Crawford floater. Crawford had a string of 7 straight points for the squad at one point, capped off by this dunk in transition. Clippers eventually got the lead back up to 5 after Redick hit a three. But then the Pacers answered back with a 5-0 run of their own and tied it up at 44. During a 6-0 run that put the Clippers up 50-44, DeAndre Jordan got a finger-tipped block. The Pacers got three free throws from C.J. Watson and a jumper by David West to trim the Clippers halftime lead down to 52-51. Jamal Crawford heaved up, and made, a shot-clock prayer but unfortunately the buzzer had sounded a split-second too soon.
After DeAndre Jordan and Roy Hibbert exchanged a single free throw by each to open up the second half, Blake Griffin nailed a mid-range jumper to put the Clippers up by 3. The Pacers would eventually take a lead nearly midway through the quarter when C.J. Watson's baseline jumper capped off a 6-0 Indiana run to put them in front 62-60. Doc Rivers had seen enough, called a timeout, and then designed up a beautiful out-of-bounds play that resulted in J.J. Redick sinking a three to put the Clippers back in front. It was the beginning of a 10-0 run that saw Jordan make a free throw, Griffin make a layup, Paul hit an elbow jumper, and Paul make two free throws. After an Indiana offensive rebound, David West put in a mid-range jumper to kill the run. Griffin would hit Jordan with another alley-oop and it put the Clippers up by 8 before the Pacers answered with a quick 4-0 run that Paul eventually stopped with a jumper of his own for the final basket of the third quarter. After three, the Clippers were up 78-72 and it seemed like they had wrestled away some control of this game and should slowly distance themselves in the fourth quarter.
Only, that didn't happen. The men who won't stop killing the Clippers, C.J. Miles and Lavoy Allen, showed up in the quarter quite often. And it started early when Miles nailed a three to open the quarter then got fouled shooting a three right after that. However, he would only make one of the three free throws and the Clippers lead was cut to 2. Jordan Farmar hit a huge three but Luis Scola made a layup right back in return. That was just the beginning of a pretty big statement run by the Pacers. Allen had a putback to bring Indiana within a point, then Donald Sloan made an and-one layup after a bang-bang call against Chris Douglas-Roberts that was called a block but easily could have been ruled a charge. Sloan made the free throw to put the Pacers up by 2 and then Scola hit a jumper to put them up by 4. It was a 9-0 run by Indiana.
From there on, it was just a rapid exchange of buckets. Chris Paul made a floater, Lavoy Allen had a putback, C.J. Miles dunked on Blake Griffin, Griffin made a fall away jumper after a Redick technical free throw, Paul got a fastbreak layup, Allen hit a mid-range jumper in response, Rodney Stuckey hit a pull-up jumper, and DeAndre Jordan made a layup and got the foul after a feed by Chris Paul. Jordan made the free throw and Indiana's lead was reduced to 93-91 with 5:20 to go. After a few more free throws, one by Matt Barnes and two by Jordan, the Clippers found themselves in front, 94-93, with 3:34 to go.
Because of everything that had transpired over the previous few minutes, the Clippers eventually saw themselves put together a 14-4 run that was capped off by Chris Paul splitting a double and making a huge mid-range jumper and Blake Griffin making one of two free throws. After Stuckey hit a jumper to pull the Pacers within 2, Griffin dunked on David West and drew the foul. Unfortunately, he missed the free throw. With 34.9 seconds to go, J.J. Redick fouled C.J. Watson on a three and Watson promptly made all three foul shots to pull the Pacers within a single tally. It didn't get better for the Clippers, either. Paul and Griffin went into their bread-and-butter pick-and-roll but Griffin couldn't handle the pass and turned it over. The Pacers called a timeout to reset and got Stuckey isolated on Redick down low but Stuckey's jumper went in-and-out. Redick got fouled, made both free throws, and then the entire team played perfect defense on Indiana which forced Watson to settle for a late layup rather than a potential game-tying three. Pacers fouled and sent Redick to the line but he missed the first and made the second. With no timeouts and only having a prayer, David West threw a long inbounds pass to C.J. Miles and Miles uncorked a three ball that fell short and thus gave the Clippers the much-needed win.
1.) DeAndre Jordan was pretty awesome tonight. He finished with 15 points, a season-high 23 rebounds, and also had 2 blocks in 44:17. He had a then-season-high 19 rebounds against the Pacers last week so he must love playing the Pacers. While his 7-for-15 from the free throw line isn't great, he hit a few key ones by going 3-for-3 from the line in the fourth quarter. Monster night for him. He wildly outplayed Roy Hibbert again, keeping him to 7 points and 3 rebounds in 16:26.
2.) Blake Griffin had 31 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal tonight in 40:08 but also had 4 turnovers and was just 11-for-27 from the field. He only went 9-for-15 inside of 8 feet tonight but he was 3-for-7 from 16+ feet. His jumper wasn't terrible tonight and it did open up more things for him going to the rim. It's hard to find too much fault with Griffin's performance tonight but he missed four free throws and did get beat on the glass a few times.
3.) Chris Paul had 20 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists, and 5 steals with just 1 turnover in 37:47. That lone turnover was when he overthrew Jordan on an alley-oop attempt in the fourth quarter. Other than that, Paul played a pretty well-balanced game and shot 7-for-14 overall. He finally looked like himself again. Controlling the tempo and working within the offensive system to get everyone involved while also searching for his own shot at times.
4.) J.J. Redick was only 4-for-10 but he finished with 16 points and sank some important free throws late. His only two free throw misses were a technical attempt earlier in the game and one of the two in the final few seconds. Thankfully, at least for all parties involved, it didn't cost the team. Doc Rivers ran with him quite a bit tonight and gave him 33:47 of action. So that's good to see.
5.) Matt Barnes only had 3 points but chipped in with 2 rebounds and 4 assists. All the assists came in the first quarter, oddly enough. Despite hurting his knee early on in the game, he still logged 33:47 tonight and Doc seemed to lean on him a lot down the stretch with the minutes rather than giving them to Jamal Crawford, which is what usually would happen.
6.) Speaking of Crawford, he only played 19:48 tonight which is the lowest he's played since the game against Phoenix where he got ejected. By his own admission, he really couldn't "feel" his shot tonight due to his arm and I wonder if Doc did this as a precaution in order to earn Crawford some rest going forward as Ralph Lawler and Mike Smith hinted Rivers might do over the next several games with a few of the guys. Crawford finished 4-for-7 and with 10 points.
7.) The bench is still a problem and part of that is because they rely solely on jumpers for their offensive production. Jordan Farmar, Jamal Crawford, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Glen Davis -- the four bench players who played tonight -- all tend to prefer jumpers these days. Because of that, it can cause the offense to get disrupted and bogged down when they can't make those jumpers. Farmar hit them against Detroit. He hit two shots tonight and Davis hit one, as well. Ultimately, the bench needs to start attacking the rim more but it's hard to see how they do. They're just going to have to ride it out.
8.) Any team looking to give the Clippers fits the rest of the year needs to go out and trade for C.J. Miles and Lavoy Allen. These guys have murdered the Clippers in their two meetings this season. After going for 30 points against Los Angeles a week ago, Miles went for 17 points tonight and 6 were in the fourth quarter. Allen had 14 points and 13 rebounds last meeting and then followed that up with 12 points and 14 rebounds tonight. His level of activity, especially on the offensive glass, gave the Clippers bigs all kinds of problems. Allen had 6 of his 8 offensive rebounds in the second half and that was part of the reason Indiana had multiple chances in this game.
9.) Clippers held the Pacers to 44.4 percent shooting but Indiana rebounded 14 of their 50 misses (28.0 Offensive Rebound Rate). The Clippers counteracted that, though, by rebounding 14 of their 44 misses (31.8 Offensive Rebound Rate). DeAndre Jordan had 8 and Blake Griffin had 6. They were the only Clippers players to register an offensive rebound tonight. All in all, Los Angeles shot 43.6 percent tonight. Of the 28 total offensive rebounds in this game, the trio of Lavoy Allen, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin collected 22 of them.
10.) On the bright side of things here, the Clippers didn't get pounded in the paint against Indiana. The Pacers won the paint battle, 42-34, but Indiana only shot 21-for-39 inside the paint. The Clippers shot 17-for-37. While neither team shot well, the fact that the Clippers at least made it difficult on Indiana to score inside did pay dividends later in the game. Their paint defense wasn't great but holding a team to 53.8 percent shooting in the paint isn't necessarily a bad thing. Especially when the Clippers held the Pacers to just 51.5 percent inside of 8 feet, which is below the league average of 55.3 percent.
We've said it a few times here lately. A win is a win is a win. At the end of the day, the Clippers walked away with a win. Was it pretty? No. Not at all. But coming out on the winning side of a game like this speaks volumes about their tenacity and willingness to win games that aren't necessarily beautiful to watch. This was not a fun game to watch for the most part. It was very sloppy, rough, and generally unappealing for vast stretches. It was almost a Memphis Grizzlies type of game when the Clippers play them. You have to earn those wins. And the Clippers did it tonight. Their offense wasn't great (43.6 percent), their leading scorer didn't shoot well (11-for-27), they only made 6 threes, and they missed 17 free throws (28-for-45). They still won the game. That's a good sign.
Next up for the Clippers is a quick stop over in Denver on Friday night to play the Nuggets. Denver lost a tough game in overtime to the Houston Rockets tonight after Arron Afflalo hit a huge three to send them to the extra period. The Nuggets are a mess, though. They've lost 7 of their last 8 and are just 3-10 against teams over .500 this year. But no game in Denver is easy. The Clippers have to come out sharp and focused in order to win. After that, the Clippers come home for the second game of a back-to-back against the Milwaukee Bucks who will be without rookie Jabari Parker (torn ACL) and possibly Giannis Antetokounmpo (sprained left ankle). Clippers will be out for revenge in that game. Next two games are winnable, though. Right now, rejoice. Clippers are 18-7. Two full games better than they were last year after 25 contests.
Blake Griffin is the 2nd player to have a 30-15-5 game this season.— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) December 18, 2014
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