The Indiana Pacers added another hard fought loss to their growing resume of hard fought losses, falling late to the Los Angeles Clippers 102-100. Indiana certainly had opportunities, especially given their play in the fourth quarter, but the Pacers settled for a layup on their final possession down three. C.J. Watson's decision to drive in for a layup after using up nearly all of their 15.6 second game clock nearly worked, had C.J. Miles sunk in an off balance 30-feat heave, but the result was Indiana's seventh straight road loss.
The Pacers struggled early containing the Clippers, but once they found some ability to find stops, they gave themselves chances to stay alive. Los Angeles threatened to blow the game open numerous times, but we never able to push the game into double figures, allowing the Pacers to fight back to within a possession or take brief leads.
Indiana broke through in a big way in the fourth quarter, opening on a 14-5 run to go up by six at 89-83. The Pacers kept the Clippers at arm's length for the next three minutes, leading 93-88 with five and a half minutes remaining. The Clippers would respond, going on a 9-0 run to take a 93-97 lead and maintaining a four point lead before Watson put in three free throws to draw Indiana to within a point.
Rodney Stuckey's opportunity to put Indiana in the lead went awry on an in and out floater that eventually put Indiana in the three point hole that would lead to the Watson layup. The loss was in some ways a step in the right direction as far as remaining competitive, but Indiana already did that just one week ago against the Clippers. Indiana proved they could play with Los Angeles, but were unable to prove they could beat Los Angeles.
Indiana hasn't proven much at all that they can win these kinds of close games. The Pacers have just a single win within five points all season, and just three within 10 points, posting a 3-13 record on the season in such games. The most obvious reason for this? Likely because Indiana doesn't have anyone they can really count on late in games.
David West had a 17 point, 10 rebound double double, but aside from struggling against Blake Griffin (who had a game high 31), West missed both of his jumpers late in the fourth quarter, both that would've halted Clipper runs and Pacer droughts. C.J. Watson had a head's up three point play late, but his decision to drive for the layup may have been the better basketball decision, but was a bad clock decision, scoring 12 on the night with five turnovers.
Rodney Stuckey saw his final attempt bounce out on his own 12 point effort, but despite being the only offensive contributor with Watson in the last half of the fourth quarter, went 1-3 in the final two minutes of action. Seven Pacers reached double figures, including Luis Scola with 10 points, including three big jumpers in the second half to push Indiana in the lead.
Lavoy Allen really went to task on the glass with DeAndre Jordan, pulling in 14 and 12 points for his own double double (though Jordan had a gaudy 15 point, 23 rebound night). C.J. Miles struggled from three point range, but still wound up a team high 17 and Solomon Hill struggled shooting from any range, but offered up positive plays with six assists.
The common theme, though? A roster full of complimentary pieces that can give you solid nights, but can hardly be expected to offer up consistently top notch play. That's not so much the fault of the talent on the roster, though it's not unfair to question Roy Hibbert's contributions (he did play relatively well in limited foul plagued minutes, however). But wherever the fault lies on this current team, it's not something that can fix itself with the roster as it exists, despite as much credit as can be doled out for playing hard and scrapping their way through contests.
Indiana will be looking to keep this loss on its own, but will not be given an easy task facing the Denver Nuggets in Denver on Saturday night. The Nuggets had no issue dispatching the Pacers a month ago, making things that much harder for Indiana if Denver looks to open things up as they did at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.