The road woes continued for the Indiana Pacers, suffering another frustrating loss, tonight to the Los Angeles Clippers. A 2-0 start proved the only lead of the game for the Pacers, who shuffled between poor offense, costly turnovers, and bad defense, putting them in the loss column for the third straight game.
One real positive on this road trip was Indiana’s ability to start quick in games, but even that went against them tonight as they scored just 16 points in the first quarter. They trailed by nine heading into the second quarter, a deficit they would chase all night and one they would have numerous opportunities to overcome.
Unfortunately, they wasted every single opportunity to overcome it, largely in part due to turnovers. They had 14 in the first half alone, seven of those coming with the game within one or two possessions in the second quarter. To add insult to injury, many of the first half turnovers were just poor plays, either coming on passing the ball backcourt or just stepping out of bounds.
For the game, the Pacers had 20 turnovers, which not only took away from their best shooting performance in almost three weeks at 51.7% shooting, but granted the Clippers 23 points in a 23-9 advantage. It helped them outrun the Pacers with 19 in fast break points. The third quarter added to the frustration, with the defense faltering to the point of madness.
Despite continuing to make things happen offensively, they were unable to capitalize by allowing the Clippers to score on eight of their first 10 possessions of the half, inflating their six point halftime deficit to nine. Indiana trailed by six with 2:38 remaining in the third, but surrendered a Patrick Beverley three, setting up the Clippers to close the third on an 8-0 run to make it a double figure game for the first time all night.
Falling behind by 17 to start the fourth, the Pacers finally found the magic formula to getting stops and not turning the ball over, closing the gap on a 14-2 run. Unfortunately, the familiar issues crept back into sight, as the Pacers gave up a pair of costly threes while committing an all too familiar turnover, once again pushing the five point deficit to nine.
Credit to the Pacers who continued to fight, much as they have late despite the losses piling up, somehow keeping the game within reach. They brought the game to within three points with 33 seconds remaining, but could not get the stop, as Beverly put Bojan Bogdanovic on the floor, hitting a dagger floater.
The second unit led the way for the Pacers, outscoring the top scoring Clippers bench 53-46. Tyreke Evans led the way with 19 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Doug McDermott put in 17 of his own, doing a lot of work inside and Domantas Sabonis had a 13 point, 16 rebound double double.
Six Pacers reached double figures, but no one reached 20 as Bogdanovic fell a point shy with 19. The Clippers had six double figure scorers of their own, two reaching 20, making up that six point final score. The floater proved especially fatal to the Pacers as it made it a five-point game with 10 seconds left, getting into that position due to two missed free throws from Bogdanovic. It was part of five total misses from the line for the Pacers on a night they were outscored by seven at the free throw line.
Not having another gear against these tougher opponents has really sent Indiana’s record into a tailspin. They drop to 4-8 in their last 12 and have now lost six straight road games. This brutal West Coast trip will finally come to an end on Thursday, but against none other than the Golden State Warriors, making Indiana’s first winless West Coast trip since December 2014 a distinct possibility.
In the meantime, the three seed has begun to slip beyond the horizon, as the Pacers lose another game to Philadelphia, now trailing by two and a half without the tiebreaker. They now hold just a half game lead over Boston, who will play the Sixers tomorrow night, which means Indiana could be in fifth when they tip off extra late again on Thursday.