Overcoming yet another 15-point deficit, the Indiana Pacers came up big in Winning Time to help them close out a win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Unsurprisingly, the Pacers found themselves off to a slow start, with misses and a lack of defensive focus allowing the Clippers to jump up by 16 points in the second quarter.
As always, however, that slow start didn’t become a definition of the night for the Pacers. Trailing 47-31, Indiana closed the half on a 19-4 run to bring them to within a single point. The comeback was led by Victor Oladipo, who had 11 points and two assists in the run, shooting 5-5.
In the third quarter, the Pacers took their first lead of the night, but struggled to build on it, allowing the Clippers to come back with an 13-2 run that put them up seven with just over two to go in the quarter. Again, Oladipo brought the Pacers back, with his four points and two assists drawing Indiana back to within two.
One of the key struggles all night for the Pacers was their inability to get into the lead, andif they did, to build on it in any way. That permeated into the fourth quarter with them hanging around one to two point deficit, but leaving that door open allowed the Clippers to again push their lead, taking an 86-80 lead with nine minutes remaining.
The Pacers responded again, scoring five straight and eight of the game’s next 10 to tie it up and 88-88 behind an Oladipo three. Darren Collison, who has struggled on this road trip, came up with five straight of his own to help give Indiana a slim 93-90 lead. The lead would be pushed to give after Oladipo’s second three of the quarter, but in true Pacers fashion, would need more than that against Los Angeles’s shot making.
The Clippers would shoot 3-4 over their next four possessions, scoring 10. The lead would be trimmed to one in part because of big shots made by the Pacers in the same run. Starting with Oladipo’s three, the Pacers would score on five straight possessions, all big time jumpers and three pointers, capped by a wide open Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored seven of his 15 in the fourth quarter.
On the other end, Lou Williams would miss a three of his own, allowing Thaddeus Young to come up with the rebounds, becoming the one team capable of getting a stop, and thus, sealing the win. The Pacers willed themselves to victory against a desperate Clippers team, scoring 61 second half points in the process.
The Pacers did so surrendering 60 points in the paint to the Clippers and failing to capitalize off of turnovers or in the fast break, allowing 24 in transition, leaving the Pacers to manufacture a win. They were able to do so on the back of Oladipo, who had his first 30-point game in almost a month, shooting 11-17 in the process.
Oladipo not only scored with ease and confidence (shooting 67.4% in his last three games), but controlled the game just about everywhere, finishing with 12 assists for a double double. He also had five steals and a block, picking up his play at the moments when Indiana needed it the most. Eight of those assists and three steals came at points when the Pacers were flipping the momentum of the game in their favor.
Both Bogdanovic and Collison shot over 50% in 15 and 14 point nights respectively, each hitting a pair of threes. Myles Turner also hit two threes in a big night, scoring 24 points and pulling in eight rebounds. Turner shot 9-15, capitalizing when receiving the ball, and putting in a pair of dunks off of offensive rebounds.
The Pacers had just 20 points off the bench, 10 from Cory Joseph, hitting two threes himself, including a big one to end the third that helped push Indiana to within two heading into the fourth. Lance Stephenson and Domantas Sabonis struggled much of the night, but Stephenson stepped up in the fourth to score 10. Sabonis was never rewarded with points, shooting just 1-5, but his offensive rebound in the fourth helped kick off Indiana’s comeback down six.
With the win, the Pacers are now 3-0 on their West Coast trip and have won five straight overall. Indiana’s wins continue to only keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race with Cleveland and Philadelphia continuing to win themselves. The Pacers remain a half game back of both in fifth, but the win coupled with a Washington loss today did bring their magic number to clinching a top five seed at just 2.
The Pacers have just five games left in the regular season, but are far from guaranteed anything given the competition they’ll be facing. Indiana will wrap up their West Coast trip in Denver on Tuesday against the Nuggets. The Nuggets, much like the Clippers, are on the outside looking in of the Western Conference Playoffs, and will also be fighting for their season.