Monday, April 1, 2013 at 10:30 PM EDT at Staples Center
Game Rewind: IND 109, LAC 106
by Scott Agness | April 1, 2013 | Updated April 2, 2013 at 2:20 AM
This one will be talked about for a while.
The Pacers led the entire way – by 24 points at one point in the third period. With All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin on the bench for most of the fourth, the Los Angeles Clippers reserves rallied the home team back to within one.
Roy Hibbert, who had a big night and scored a game-high 26 points, knocked down a field goal. Less than a minute later, David West buried a step-back jumper from the right elbow to keep the Pacers in front by four. After hitting just one of their first six free throw attempts in the fourth, they made the final eight and held off a raucous comeback by the Clippers.
With 1.9 seconds left, the ball was thrown about 60 feet to Griffin, who punched it to Lamar Odom for one last look at the top of the key. It was too strong and the Pacers exhaled in relief.
The win, 109-106, gives the Pacers (48-27) their first four-game West Coast sweep since the 2003-04 season.
Indiana scored the game’s first 10 points and later led 20-8 as they connected on nine of their first 11 field goals. An 11-2 burst from the Clippers (49-26), who have now lost three straight, got them to within three. Hibbert was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor and had 15 points, including the Pacers’ final seven in the opening frame to make it 29-21.
"I just want to get out the gates early, be aggressive, make the right plays, and don’t force things," Hibbert said.
In addition to Hibbert's efficient offensive night, he altered many of LA's shots in the lane. Remember, he missed the last meeting because of a one-game suspension.
The Pacers went on a 10-0 run and nearly had a 16-point lead at halftime, but then the final 19 seconds happened, resulting in an eight-point swing.
Lance Stephenson interfered with a Paul George 3-pointer as it bounced on the rim. At the other end, Griffin converted a 3-point play and Tyler Hansbrough threw the inbounds pass away, giving the Clippers one last opportunity. Caron Butler rebounded a miss from Griffin, which was well-contested by Hansbrough, and tipped the ball in over his shoulder. Five points in the final 3.6 seconds shrunk the Pacers’ lead to eight, 51-43.
Midway through the third stanza, the Pacers broke the game open and looked like they were going to win big. They scored 10 in a row and took their largest lead of the game, 79-55. Again, the Clippers finished the quarter strong, a 10-2 run, to make it a 16-point game. Their deficit was large, but manageable.
"[We need to] just continue to close out quarters," added Hibbert. "The end of the third, we kind of faltered. End of the second we kind of faltered as well and gave them a little bit of momentum."
The Clippers’ reserves did most of the damage and made it a game again. Jamal Crawford, a leading candidate for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, caught fire and had 15 in the quarter. LA’s switch to a zone defense also gave the Pacers some problems; they turned it over six times in the final 12 minutes. Vogel had to keep Hibbert on the bench for more than half of the fourth after picking up his fifth foul. The Clippers just wouldn’t go away, forcing the Pacers to close the game at the charity stripe – and they did.
“They have the best bench in the game and you’ve got to account for those guys,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. “Jamal Crawford is a nightmare for coaches preparing to play those guys.”
Coach Frank Vogel emphasized since training camp that he wanted the team to have a winning road record. That goal was made even more difficult as the team lost six straight after narrowly winning the season opener. With the three-point victory, the Pacers are .500 away from Indianapolis with three more opportunities to accomplish Vogel's goal.
Monday’s win can be remembered for a variety of things. Most importantly, the Pacers captured another win – eight of the last 10 – and are streaking at the right time, with just two weeks left in the regular season.
Inside the Numbers
All five starters finished in double figures for the second game a row and D.J. Augustin contributed 10 points off the bench.
With 26 points (and 10 rebounds), Hibbert has scored 20 or more points in three of the last four games. The Pacers are 6-1 this season when that happens.
Along with a team-high 10 assists, Paul George had 23 points to finish in double figures for the 23rd consecutive game. West had 16 and both Hill and Stephenson added 13.
The Pacers assisted on 29 of 39 field goals.
The Clippers had 24 second-chance points and outscored the Pacers in the lane by 16.
The Pacers improve to 24-6 this season when attempting more than 25 foul shots. They were 21-of-28 at the line.
Of the eight playoff teams in the East, the Pacers were the only team to beat the Clippers in LA.
Indiana is a combination of two wins or Chicago losses from clinching the Central Division title.
“[They made a] furious comeback and our guys showed a great deal of guts: David West with his step- back jumper and our ability to make free throws down the stretch. Our will in the first half and really the first three quarters, too, [let us] defend, run, make the extra pass. We had 29 assists; They were more important than anything we did in the final two minutes.” – Frank Vogel
“We knew this was going to be probably one of the toughest games of the year. We just got up big, we knew they were going to make a run. We got on our heels. We just were able to hold on…We had opportunities, we just played a little bit too safe and they made us pay. When it got close, I thought we made the plays, got contests, and we made our free throws down the stretch to win the game.” – David West
“Danny [Granger] was in the lineup a lot of times last year, and he was one of the closers for us. [Earlier in the year] we were just mixed up a little bit. A lot of guys, myself included, a lot of pressure was put on me that I shouldn’t have put it on myself, as far as learning how to finish games, and being someone that Coach can trust with the ball late in games. Now, we game together. We’re playing great team ball.” – Paul George
“I’m just disappointed. Just not enough effort from the starters to get us off to a good start, or a consistent 48 minutes of effort. We played I’d say maybe a half of good basketball if that. We dug ourselves too big a hole, had to use a lot of energy from the bench to get us back in it. But then we couldn’t convert like I said. Just not good enough.” – Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro
Stat of the Game
The Clippers bench accounted for almost 57 percent of their points and outscored the Pacers’ bench 60-18.
- Ian Mahinmi sustained a right shoulder contusion in the second quarter and returned in the second half. He was given his first technical foul of the season in the third period.
- Matt Barnes was called for a flagrant-one foul for throwing Stephenson to the ground.
- Chauncey Billups (strained right groin) missed his third-straight game.
- With road wins over both the Lakers and Clippers, the Pacers went 2-0 at the Staples Center this season.
- The Clippers recorded their 87th sellout in a row.
Up Next Home Game
The Pacers return home from the West Coast to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, April 5th at 8 PM EST. Find Tickets »