Indiana Pacers guard George Hill had a nice description when asked what was different in the Pacers big win over the Los Angeles Clipper compared to the two losses to the New York Games in the previous.
"We owned the airspace," said Hill.
That they did, especially the second unit Hill directed to take command of the game in the second quarter. The Pacers took the fight to the Clippers as the aggressors in the game which frustrated to Clippers who played more like "Flop City" instead of their "Lob City" moniker.
"We played a physical game." Hill explained. "We went back to the way we play and really not focusing on the offensive end but focusing on the defensive end. Any time we focus on the defensive end the offense will take care of itself. We have a lot of guys on this team that can score the ball, but we have to be willing defend at the defensive end."
The Clippers simply weren't up for a physical game, instead preferring to flop at first contact. The Pacers kept coming at them and were able to get under the visitor's skin, leading to a few skirmishes reminiscent of wins at Chicago, Minnesota and Dallas earlier in the season. In fact, I think the Pacers are undefeated in games when they provoke a little dust up from their opponent.
Blake Griffin led the flailing approach for the Clippers but that seemed to backfire since after awhile the refs can't tell what contact is legit because the guy is literally trying to sell a call whenever he's around the ball. The big fella certainly earned his share of fouls, but the Pacers did a good job of making it tough. George Hill even wrapped up Griffin just before he took flight on a late-game break opportunity, forcing Griffin to the free throw line. The Hack-A-Flopper approach worked pretty will since Griffin was 2-7 from the free throw line. As a team, the Clippers made just nine of 20 free throws. Griffin can dunk, though.
After the jump, check out the links along my initial thoughts after leaving the Fieldhouse last night.