Whether by fatigue or complacency, the Clippers aren’t putting away the teams they should. After losing by 21 in Indiana one week ago, the Clippers allowed the Pacers to race past them again, 111-102.
The Clippers combined lax defense with turnovers on offense in a perverse formula that’s becoming too familiar. Doc Rivers’ men coughed up the ball 20 times while forcing just 9 of their own The squishy defense allowed a Pacer parade through the paint, as Indiana scored 58 of its points inside.
This overall malaise infected the second and third quarters in particular, a period over which the Pacers outscored the good guys 66-41. After cutting into a first-half deficit that reached 13, the Pacers opened the third quarter with a 19-2 run to take a lead that would be threatened but never relinquished.
Paul George shook off some noteworthy defense by Luc Mbah a Moute and a rusty start in his return from injury, scoring 16 points with 5 assists and 3 steals. Thaddeus Young scored a team-high 17, several of which came against undersized opponent Jamal Crawford in the final quarter. Every Pacer starter reached double-digits in scoring, as did reserves Rodney Stuckey and CJ Miles. Miles, like George, was also returning from injury.
Despite the disappointing result, it was far from all bad for the Clippers. In fact, they opened with downright domination. JJ Redick canned three first-quarter threes as his team opened the game with runs of 9-0 and 10-0. Redick added two second-quarter threes on his way to 15 for the game, although he converted just 33% of his attempts.
But even through the inspired start, Indiana’s length frustrated the quick-passing Clippers. Chris Paul, who scored just 13 on poor shooting last Sunday, was largely bottled up, sinking two late three-pointers to buoy an 18-point performance discolored somewhat by five turnovers.
Blake Griffin was the Clippers’ best player, and though he wasn’t his most aggressive self throughout, his jumper was on target. Blake finished with a gaudy 24/16/5 line. DeAndre Jordan added a workman-like 9 and 15, including a solid 3-for-5 performance from the free throw line. Jamal scored 14 off the bench.
The Clippers’ legs will get two full days of rest before hosting the hated Warriors in Wednesday night’s marquee matchup.
- The Pacers shot 35 free throws to the Clippers’ 28, marking the rare occasion that Doc’s team has been outshot from the line. Chalk some of the disparity up to the Pacers’ aggressiveness, and some of it up to the officials’ frequent misjudgments.
- The Pacers, who have struggled mightily away from Indiana, won just their second road game of the season.
- With his team scuffling, Doc experimented with lineups. Paul Pierce played with the reserves in the first half, but was replaced by Wes Johnson in the second half. DeAndre Jordan and JJ Redick both made early fourth-quarter appearances with the reserves, including a stint in a four-guard lineup (Paul, Redick, Crawford, Austin Rivers).