If only Jimmy Chitwood could have donned his Hickory High jersey and played the second half with the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night. The actor who played the Hoosiers icon sat courtside as the Pacers put on another disaster of a performance during the waning minutes in their final game of a Western road trip.
After trailing by only two points at halftime, star Danny Granger reinjured his bruised right heel at the start of the second half and although the blue and gold hung around until the fourth, the injury helped sealed the team's fate. Even Chitwood couldn't have stopped the ensuing collapse.
The Pacers committed 21 turnovers, made only 37.5 percent from the floor, produced a season-low point total and lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games as the Clippers steamrolled the blue and gold in the final seven minutes en route to a 88-72 Pacers loss. The young season reached another low point for the Pacers (6-12).
With 2:38 remaining in the third quarter, rookie Tyler Hansbrough's two free throws brought the Pacers within two as the Cips led 56-54. Indiana would remain in the game until midway through the fourth quarter when an Earl Watson layup brought the Paces within two again with 6:54 remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Indiana would score only four more points in the final seven minutes. Three crucial turnovers, including a 24-second violation, and several clankers off the basket showed some glaring holes in the Pacers offense down the stretch. Granger's playmaking ability was sorely missed as the team was left without anyone to take over the game.
While the Pacers' offense went comatose in the final minutes, the defense and rebounding was also to blame. All five Clippers starters scored in double figures. Marcus Camby also grabbed 17 rebounds, helping Los Angeles to a 58-34 rebounding advantage, including a 19-4 edge on the offensive end. Both totals were season highs for the Clippers.
Indiana finished its Western road trip with an unimpressive and disheartening 0-4 record. This game was really a downer in the fourth. Just read some of our fan's reactions on the game thread. This one was got ugly, quickly. Check out more after the jump, if you dare.
- Before leaving the game with his injury, Granger made 4-of-12 shots for 11 points. He had a couple of nice, forceful drives in the first half, but he was mostly a nonfactor before the injury anyway. Clippers center Chris Kaman said the following about the Pacers star: "He was not playing well tonight," Kaman said of Granger. "He is a great player and does a great job for them, but we did a good job defensively. He was missing shots and then he got injured."
Troy Murphy came through with a team-high 37 minutes and team-high 13 points tonight. Yeah, that should tell you a lot about the game. Murph also grabbed a team-high nine boards.
Jeff Foster started in place of Roy Hibbert in this one, but he didn't stay on the court very long. Hibbert entered the game quickly with about eight minutes to go in the first quarter and Foster was limited to only 12 minutes. Hibbert bounced back from his past two bad performances on the road trip to score 12 points in the post. It was nice to see the team feed him the ball on the block after being neglected of late. It was Hibbert's first game in double-digits in the past nine games.
- Where art thou, T.J. Ford? The starting point guard must be playing some of the worst ball that a starting NBA caliber point guard can play right now. Another listless performance left the team's leadership position at a season-low in this one. Ford had another goose egg in the points column, had two assists, two turnovers and four fouls in 18 minutes. Luckily, Earl Watson, who struggled shooting the ball, proved his worth again by dishing out nine of the team's 19 assists.
- Mike Dunleavy and Hansbrough both exceeded their minute limits tonight as Dunleavy played 22 and the rookie totaled 20. Dunleavy scored 10 points off the bench.
- The Pacers held the Clippers to shooting 34.9 percent from the field tonight. Indiana shot 37.9 percent from the court.
- Eric Gordon, who is still struggling with injuries, started for the Clippers but scored a season-low six points on 2-for-7 shooting.