The Indiana Pacers were forced to come up with big plays late to help stave off a late push by the Los Angeles Clippers. Seeing their 18-point third quarter lead evaporate into a fourth quarter deficit, the Pacers were thrown into a back-and-forth game.
The Clippers took an 88-87 lead with 7:36 remaining to kick off a six minute stretch in which the teams exchange leads 11 times, including two ties, setting up a 102-102 tie with 1:40 left in the game. Neither team was able to string together consecutive stops in that stretch, but the Pacers managed to break that trend by forcing three straight turnovers on the Clippers as part of an 8-0 run that helped close out the win.
The Pacers closed out the win by not only creating turnovers, but scoring off them, flipping their struggles against New Orleans into a more familiar positive. Indiana outscored the Clippers 20-9 in points off turnovers, the Pacers committing just nine total for the game. This helped the Pacers create possessions, leading to 16 more shots, helping offset a big shooting gap between the teams.
Indiana was able to get those extra shots not only off turnovers, but on the offensive glass. The Pacers outrebounded the Clippers by eight, all coming in a 14-6 advantage on offensive rebounds. Indiana outscored LA 12-6 off of those rebounds, limiting DeAndre Jordan to two, though it did take some sacrifices on Indiana’s side.
Myles Turner finishing with just seven points and two rebounds appears underwhelming, but he was key in keeping Jordan from destroying the Pacers on the glass. Jordan finished with 11 rebounds, his lowest total in 12 games, a stretch in which he’s averaged 18.3 rebounds a game.
The allowed the Pacers to rebound by committee, with all nine Pacers picking up multiple rebounds, led by Thaddeus Young, who finished with a 16 point, 10 rebound double double. Darren Collison also finished with a double double of 13 points and 10 assists, shooting 6-9, including the go-ahead bucket in the fourth, dishing half of those to Bojan Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic led the way for the Pacers with 28 points, shooting 12-18 from the floor. He did a majority of his damage in the paint and at the free throw line extended but hit all three of his three pointers at the elbow, a lethal shooting performance for a Pacers team that needed one as Victor Oladipo continued to struggle with his shot.
Oladipo finished 4-16, but played undeterred by working himself to the free throw line for a 7-8 night. That led to 18 points overall for Oladipo, but as expected, despite struggling, he still came through in the moments the team needed him. His first field goals came back-to-back to start the third, keying off Indiana’s push in the third and stepped into a big three that helped Indiana keep pace with the Clippers in the fourth.
Much of that push in the fourth was led by Lou Williams, whose lethal scoring off the bench nearly buried Indiana. Williams had 27 and along with a big night from Montrezl Harrell led to 47 Clippers bench points. Indiana had just 27 by comparison, but were led by Lance Stephenson, scoring 16 on 6-11 shooting, including seven in the fourth.
Tonight’s win not only gives Indiana their third straight winning season, but allowed them to fully take advantage of games within the Eastern Conference going their way as well. While Cleveland easily dispatched of the league-worst Suns, both Washington and Miami suffered late losses, giving the Pacers some breathing room as they sit in 5th on percentage points with Philadelphia.
Indiana will take the floor again on Sunday against the Miami Heat, giving them an opportunity to more or less put the 7th seed in the East out of reach. A win will put Indiana four games ahead with a conference record tiebreaker, but a loss will make it just two as the tiebreaker would shift in favor of the Heat. With the Pacers setting off on a late four game West Coast trip, they need to get back on the winning track against Eastern Conference playoff teams.