It was just a matter of time.
The Clippers started the game with a burst of energy that the Indiana Pacers weren't ready to match. Eric Gordon appeared headed for a big night with 12 first quarter points while the Pacers turned it over eight times, staggering through the start of the game. Gordon threw down a nasty dunk on Roy Hibbert and Blake Griffin had a couple of impressive follow dunks which showed the young talent L.A. is trying to build around.
But the Clippers are young without Baron Davis and Chris Kaman, and only led 25-22 after one quarter. Soon enough the Pacers depth and experience finally pushed back at the young Clippers and there was little response. The Clippers were playing their third game in four days and it was as if that initial burst to open the game used up the little bit of gas left in their tank.
The Pacers outscored the Clippers 58-34 in the second and third quarters combined. A.J. Price came off the bench to score 9 first half points to supplement the16 first-half points Roy Hibbert pumped in on 8-11 shots.
The active defensive effort from the Pacers was too much for the Clippers to handle as Danny Granger eventually covered up Eric Gordon. Granger slowed down the Indy native much like he did Joe Johnson on Tuesday. The Pacers also blocked 14 shots including 5 from Brandon Rush and 3 by Roy Hibbert. Credit the Pacers for doing what they needed to do to seize control of the game and close it out early without any drama.
The Pacers desperately needed a game like this where they could impose their will and cruise to an easy victory. With Mike Dunleavy missing the game for the birth of his daughter and Darren Collison still out with an ankle injury, this was a nice game to utilize the team's bench and give some minutes the young players.
The win also evens the Pacers' record again at 5-5 with the Orlando Magic coming to town on Saturday for a far less friendly stretch of the schedule.
After the jump, more thoughts and observations on the individual performance because there really isn't a whole lot to take from the team effort tonight. They did what they needed to do, it wasn't spectacular, but a win by the Pacers is always cause for celebration.
- The Pacers fell flat in the third quarter against Atlanta, but tonight they turned the tables on the Clippers, pushing a 10-point halftime lead to 21 by the end of the quarter while sucking the life out of the Clippers.
- The Clippers are young without Davis and Kaman. We're talking a serious bunch of green bananas. Chris Denari mentioned that none of the five starters were over 22 and all could still be playing in college. Their inconsistency showed up from possession to possession and when they started falling behind, they went into hang-dog-I'm-tired mode without a fight.
- Roy Hibbert finished the game with 18 points and 8 rebounds to go with his three blocks. His two points in the second weren't due to the similar disappearing act he's had in recent games after a strong first half. The Pacers weren't running much through the Hibbert as the Clippers played a lot of zone and had the Pacers cashing in perimeter shots. Hibbert did contribute to the early turnover problems and ended the game with 6 donations.
- Danny Granger had a pretty solid all-around effort again tonight and seems to be enjoying his role of defending smaller, shooting guards. Granger finished with a pair of blocks and steals to help prop up an efficient 22 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Those are some winning numbers from 33.
- T.J. Ford looked real sloppy early in the game. He only had one turnover but over-dribble a few times and missed so badly on a few shots that they played like turnovers. Ford settled down and played better in the second half, although the whole team did once they could exhale with control of the game in hand.
- A.J. Price was assertive off the bench, quickly adding a much-needed scoring punch to the lineup. 14 points, 6 assists with 1 turnover off the bench? Those are some winning numbers, as well.
- Josh McRoberts didn't help his cause for holding onto the starting power forward spot, once again finishing with more fouls than points. One indefensible play by McRoberts was a defensive lapse when long-time, long-bomber Brian Cook checked into the game for the Clippers and promptly knocked down a 3-ball when McRoberts played off him and was late to close out on the shooter.
- Jeff Foster played his first minutes in what seems like forever and quickly made his presence felt with a couple of offensive rebounds. He played alongside Tyler Hansbrough, back from an ankle injury, which created a frenzy in the front-court for the Clippers to deal with. Both guys can get under an opponent's skin, so seeing them combine forces was kind of fun. Hansbrough finished with 7 points and 8 rebounds.
- With Mike Dunleavy out tonight, rookie Paul Georgeearned some early playing time after a couple of quick fouls by Brandon Rush. George didn't take advantage of the early time though, playing a bit tentative and committing three fouls which put him back on the bench until garbage time in the fourth quarter.
- James Posey was a big factor in closing out the win, as he set up shop behind the arc and knocked down four 3-balls in the second half. He could've had one more, but passed up a wide-open look in the fourth quarter to feed Danny Granger for his own wide-open three in the corner. Clippers' forward Craig Smith was caught between the two players but showed absolutely no interest in running at either player.
- As a team the Pacers shot 14 for 26 from 3-land to bury the Clippers. Brandon Rush knocked down four of those and finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 blocks. While his shot was falling, the rest of his offensive game was sloppy as he gave up 4 turnovers including a couple of head-scratching passes that went the other way. I guess that's an improvement over the wild pitch he threw into the stands against Atlanta.
- Once again, the Pacers handled themselves quite well on the glass, out-rebounding the Clippers 47-42 with everyone pitching in to control the boards.