|CLIPPERS OUTDONE BY THE PACERS BENCH |
- RYAN MENEZES
The Clippers couldn't outlast the Pacers Tuesday night in Indianapolis, falling 102-89 in the first game of three in three nights.
The three-game slate is the ultimate test of endurance in this abbreviated season, but the Clippers (26-19) faltered as time wound down in their first game.
ďWe just stopped making shots," Blake Griffin said. "A lot of shots that I think we normally hit did not go down and thatís going to happen. Thatís why we need to rely on our defense and it hasnít really been there. Thatís what is going to happen until we get it figured out.Ē†
The Pacers reserves outplayed the Clippers at crucial stretches in the game. Not even extended minutes in a zone defense could stop the Pacers (26-18), who shot 47.9 percent from the field and found their shooters in open spots for 8-of-14 shooting from 3-point range.
Difference Maker: Tyler Hansbrough. The Pacers bench shot 60 percent (21-of-35) from the field and Hansbrough played a major part in that. Indiana's bruising power forward scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He also had a hand in making the game chippy. One of his hard fouls drew Griffin's ire as the two crashed to the floor.†
"George Hill and Hansborough were the difference in the game," Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Their bench really bothered us."
Turning Point: When Nick Young drained a 3-pointer with 5:50 left in the third quarter, the Clippers had come back from nine points down to tie the game at 62. The Pacers went on to score 16 of the next 20 points to extend the lead to 12 points by the end of the quarter and the Clippers wouldn't get much closer the rest of the way.†The Clippers had problems closing out each of the first three quarters, a major reason they were barely in the game in the fourth. In addition to the 16-4 run to end the third quarter, the Pacers went on an 8-3 run to end the first and a 9-3 run to end the second.
Stat Line of the Night:†Danny Granger had 25 points, eight rebounds and one assist, steal and block. He put his head down and got to line for eight free-throws, making all, and busted the Clippers zone defense with a consecutive 3-pointers in the third quarter (Granger hit 3-of-5 from deep).
More Stats: Blake Griffin (23 points, 10 rebounds). Griffin channeled some of his last outing against Indiana, a 47-point, career-high outburst on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last season, and started hot. He made 6-of-9 shots for 14 first-quarter points, including a mid-range jumper that led to a three-point play and a step-back 3-pointer as the shot clock was running out. But Griffin wasn't as effective as the game went on and once again had a bad day shooting free throws, going 2-for-7.
Chris Paul (16 points, 8 assists). Paul was also in attack mode early and put up seven points in the first quarter, the Clippers best quarter of the night. Paul was finding shooters in the right spots, but the shots weren't falling: the Clippers shot 6-of-22 from 3-point distance.
Nick Young (13 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist). Young drew his first start in just his second game as a Clipper. Young had a better outing than his last, but still struggled to make his shots consistently (5-of-13 from the field). Young was particularly impressive creating his own shot on a couple of isolation possessions.
"He gives us another dimension, obviously," Del Negro said of Young. "He can make some shots and we like having his size out there defensively. He'll be more aggressive and we'll get him more involved."
Hot:†George Hill. Indiana's backup point guard hit 6-of-7 shots, including all three 3-point attempts, as the Pacers bench overwhelmed their Clipper counterparts.
"I think George Hill was definitely the game-changer tonight," Paul said. "I donít remember him missing."
Not:†DeAndre Jordan. Jordan could not avoid foul trouble as the Pacers kept driving to the basket. He played just 21 minutes (two points, 10 rebounds), but was constantly trying to avoid picking up more fouls. It barely worked, and Jordan still finished with five fouls on the night.
On the Clippersí free throw shooting:
Vinny Del Negro: "When you miss as many free throws as we are right now it makes it tough. We left 11 on the line tonight so that just puts you behind even more."
Frank Vogel: "Thatís a big-time up-tempo group. And we preach to those guys to change the tempo of the game."
On the win:
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