Granger Scores 16 as Pacers Drop Clippers
Indiana 97, L.A. Clippers 75
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 21 (Ticker) -- With Ron Artest no longer part of the picture, rookie Danny Granger is getting an opportunity with the Indiana Pacers.
Stephen Jackson scored 24 points and Granger came off the bench to add a season-high 16 as the Pacers won their fourth consecutive home game, a 97-75 victory over the slumping Los Angeles Clippers.
"Every time I go out there, I feel a little more comfortable," Granger said. "With Ron gone, it's been important for other people to step up, and any production that I can come up with is great. Knowing that I'm going to get more time has been great because I think it's helped my focus and concentration."
"He's really giving us something we need right now," Jackson said. "He's a great defender. He's rebounding great and he's starting to hit his shots. By being another scorer for us, he's making us a deeper team, and that's really what we need right now."
Granger, who scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds in a reserve role Saturday against New York, sparked the Pacers with eight points in a 16-4 second-quarter run that gave Indiana a 38-28 lead.
"He is ready (for more minutes) and he'll get them," Pacers center Jermaine O'Neal said. "Hopefully, he'll take full advantage of his opportunity. I think he will. He works hard and he's starting to understand the game plan. This is a guy who wants to be really good in this league and I think he will be."
"Danny has earned his minutes and he's gotten better," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.
Shaun Livingston hit a layup and assisted on a dunk by Daniel Ewing that brought the Clippers within 72-68 with 8:57 to play. However, Fred Jones made a 3-pointer, Jackson hit a free throw and Granger knocked down a jumper for a 10-point edge.
The Pacers pulled away as Jamaal Tinsley hit two straight jumpers and Jackson hit consecutive shots from beyond the arc in a 18-1 spurt that widened the lead to 97-73 in the final minute.
"I thought it was one of our best efforts in terms of disposition at both ends," Carlisle said. "Jamaal had a monster game for us. Danny Granger gave us a lift off of the bench and Stephen Jackson was the unsung hero."
Tinsley scored 17 points and eight assists and O'Neal added 15 with 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who shot 51 percent (39-of-76) from the floor and made nine 3-pointers as they swept the two-game season series.
"Give Indiana credit, but we are just not playing well right now," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We forced 21 turnovers, got 17 offensive rebounds and we can't put points on the board. I don't fault our shot selection, but we just aren't finishing plays. We are just making too many mistakes, and those mistakes cost you."
Elton Brand had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Chris Kaman added 13 and 16 for Los Angeles, which lost for the fifth time in six outings.
"We missed a lot of defensive assignments and did some things wrong tonight," Brand said. "It's disappointing that we didn't play well. We've got to know that when you are the division-leading team, you are going to have a target on your back. We've got to be ready every night."
"I think we did a good job on O'Neal, but some other guys stepped up for them," Kaman said. "He's their go-to-guy, but he also does a great job of passing and finding the open person. We didn't step out and help when we needed to and they got some easy buckets. Turnovers and missed free throws were big for us tonight."