The Pacers started their two-game set in Los Angeles with a 139-133 loss to the Clippers, using a familiar storyline no one would ever consider in Hollywood.
The Pacers trailed from the tip, but through a series of surges throughout the game, found themselves down just three points with 30 seconds remaining. The opportunity to steal an improbable win was still alive with plenty of time in a one possession game.
But the Clippers sideline out of bounds (SLOB for you NBA geeks) saw Torrey Craig chasing and then stop chasing Reggie Jackson, who took the inbounds pass, realized he was all alone and drove in for a layup. No doubt a communication breakdown for Craig, although he also didn’t appear to be looking to help the helper that wasn’t there, so simply poor execution.
The Clippers held on for the six-point win, but as Rick Carlisle has said quite often this season in similar games, the Pacers lost this one in the first quarter with the way they started the game.
From the start of the game, signs were not positive for the Pacers. Caris LeVert had a steal (that was positive) then took the ball the other way, when the Clippers made it back on D, LeVert kept the ball and retreated to the corner, then snapped a no look pass to...no one. The Clips took the ball on the over and back.
A couple of possessions later, Sabonis was working some pick and roll action and flipped the ball to where he thought his teammate would be, but instead retrieved the errant toss for a traveling violation.
The Clippers converted and then jumped out to an earl lead in the first quarter with Ivan Zuabac and Marcus Morris Sr. doing most of the damage. Remember, the Clips didn’t have Paul George or Kahwi Leonard, so their normal role players came ready to step up and fill the void.
With Malcolm Brogdon out, Duane Washington Jr. started and the vets obviously weren’t on the same page. But the overall lack of focus to start the game was troubling.
Midway through the first quarter, Rick Carlisle was ready to make some changes and subbed out three starters, but not Washington. With Myles Turner out, Goga Bitazdze was one of those three subs along with Chris Duarte and Oshae Brissett. Lance Stephenson would enter a couple of possessions later, joining Washington for a full bench unit. Good indicator of how unimpressed Carlisle was with his teams effort to open the road trip.
The Clippers lead after one, 40-27 with the Pacers bench, led by Oshae Brissett doing their part to hang around. But far too much was coming easy for the Clippers, and as Carlisle predictably said after the game, that 40-point first quarter, “put us up against it” and they simply have to be better.
The Pacers remain in La La Land where they will play the Lakers on Wednesday night.
Other interesting takeaways:
- In the second quarter, the Pacers cut the deficit to one point, but the Clips close the half with a 10-2 run.
- The Pacers had their own 40-point quarter with 43 in the fourth quarter. But the Clips scored 71 second half points so it was simply a game with little resistance. Hope you bet the over.
- Similar to the first quarter, the Clips pushed the lead to 19 in the third quarter, which forced the Pacers to dig their way out for a second time, which they did.
- Nicolas Batum seemed to kill any momentum when the Pacers got something going. Batum finished made 7 of 10 threes and finished with 32 points.
- As a whole, the Clippers shot well, making 18 of 36 threes and 31 of 36 free throws. Plenty of points to go around at Crypto Arena in this one.
- The bench showed up big for the Pacer with Oshae Brissett making things happen during the second quarter, Goga Bitadze making things happen in the second half and Chris Duarte having a solid game in both halves.
- Duarte had a strong all-around game finishing with 24 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals. It was great to see the rookie get extended minutes thanks to his play on the court.
- Goga Bitadze took advantage of Myles Turner’s absence to score a career-high 17 points with 8 rebounds and a couple of blocks. He also closed the game in the fourth quarter lineup that was having success while playing alongside Domantas Sabonis.
- Duane Washington Jr. started the game and overall looked real solid, much more comfortable on the offensive end. DW made a couple of threes and finished with 10 points, but the reps will serve him well. His tweener guard status still shows up at times on defense, but always love his assertiveness at both ends.
- The road trip doesn’t get any easier, but if Carlisle continues to look to the bench and younger players to fill in when needed, it could be entertaining as this game became after the rough start.
- Speaking of giving young guys a chance, Isaiah Jackson did not play but is with the team after rolling up to Fort Wayne on Saturday to help the Mad Ants beat Westchester, 132-104. In 23 minutes, IJax had 25 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and made all 5 of his three-point attempts.