Clips need big games from Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan to beat Pacers
LOS ANGELES — Defense, and DeAndre Jordan’s unyielding effort on the glass at both ends of the court, ultimately was the deciding factor for the Los Angeles Clippers in a grueling victory over the struggling Indiana Pacers.
Blake Griffin had 31 points and 16 rebounds, Jordan added 23 rebounds and 15 points, and the two-time defending Pacific Division champions beat the Pacers 102-100 on Wednesday night.
“It was a big game by D.J. He was there all night for us on the defensive end,” Chris Paul said. “They did a good job of making us play at their pace, and we never got a chance to get a lot of consecutive stops. Luckily we got some down the stretch. The really good teams rely on defense to win games.”
Jordan had 19 rebounds against the Pacers in a 103-96 win at Indiana on Dec. 10.
“That’s what it came down to — getting stops and executing,” said Jordan, who was one rebound short of his career high. “My job for our team is to be a defender, rebounder, shot blocker, and to just be the back line for us. That means controlling the paint, grabbing all the loose balls and limiting teams to one shot.”
Paul had 20 points and nine assists, helping the Clippers win for the 11th time in 13 games.
The Pacers, who snapped an eight-game losing streak with their 110-91 rout of the Lakers on Monday night at Indiana, dropped their seventh straight road game. David West and reserve C.J. Miles each had 17 points.
“Jordan is one of the best (offensive rebounders) in the league,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “You’ve got their 3-point game to worry about, you have Griffin to worry about, and you have Chris Paul on the lob to worry about. So even if you get a stop, Jordan is under the basket knocking people around. That’s why they are a great team.”
The Pacers led 85-81 with 8:50 to play, but they made only three field goals in the final 5:38 and Miles missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the final horn.
Miles’ dunk gave Indiana a six-point advantage before the Clippers went on a 14-4 spurt that put them ahead 97-93 with 2:35 left.
“They made some tough plays down the stretch, and we weren’t able to make enough of them,” West said.
Griffin paced the Clippers to a 52-51 halftime lead with 15 points. They led by as many as nine after an alley-oop dunk by Jordan off of Griffin’s lob pass with 5 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter.
Indiana pulled ahead 37-36 on Miles’ dunk with 7:47 left in the half, but missed four shots on one possession during the final 19 seconds — a sequence that began with Jordan’s block of Roy Hibbert’s short jumper. Hibbert picked up his fourth foul with 10:08 left in the third quarter and finished with seven points in 16 minutes.
The broken right leg that Paul George sustained on Aug. 1 during a scrimmage with the U.S. national team at Las Vegas, has taken quite a toll on the two-time defending Central Division champion Pacers (8-18). Last season they won 21 of their first 26 and finished 56-26, with George averaging 21.7 points.
Pacers: The Pacers are one of four teams that haven’t had anyone foul out of a game this season, along with the Spurs, Nets and Hornets. Damjan Rudez picked up three fouls in his 56 seconds on the court and didn’t play in the second half. … The Pacers have yet to shoot 50 percent or better in a game. Last season they did it 16 times and were 15-1, the only loss coming at Phoenix. … The Pacers entered Wednesday with seven players averaging double digits in points, but no one averaging more than 13.2.
Clippers: Griffin had fewer than 20 points in each of his previous five games against Indiana. He set career highs with 47 points and 19 field goals against the Pacers on Jan. 17, 2011. … Matt Barnes grabbed a career-best 16 rebounds against the Pacers on Jan. 20, 2010, while playing for the Orlando Magic.
Backup center Spencer Hawes, who had a career-high seven blocked shots against the Pacers on March 16, 2013, while playing for Philadelphia, missed his third straight game because of a bruised left knee.
Pacers: At Denver on Saturday.
Clippers: At Denver on Friday.
*Photo courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images