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Clippers fall flat in 102-89 loss to Pacers

Blake Griffin finishes with 23 points and 10 rebounds, but the Clippers break down on defense and get little help from their reserves in a lopsided loss to start a three-games-in-three-nights trip.

March 20, 2012|By Broderick Turner

Reporting from Indianapolis — The first stop on the Clippers' three-games-in-three-nights trip was something guard Chris Paul wanted to forget.

His team had been outplayed in every single way, the score telling just a small part of the story during a 102-89 victory by the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Paul's team was bad on defense again, allowing the Pacers to make 47.9% of their shots, and eight of 14 three-point attempts (57.1%).

The Clippers' bench was outscored, 50-23.

The Clippers were even worse than usual from the free throw-line, making nine of 20 (45%) while the Pacers shot 92.3% (24 for 26).

The Clippers had just 14 assists, the Pacers 19.

The Clippers had 37 rebounds, the Pacers 41.

The Clippers shot 43.5% from the field, 27.3% (six for 22) from the three-point line.

The Clippers tried some zone defense, but that didn't help either.

Indeed, it was a night to forget.

"They got us tonight," Paul said after producing 16 points and eight assists. "This is just an ugly game. We're going to scratch this one and get ready for tomorrow. Forget this one. Get out of here."

The problem there is that the Clippers now head to Oklahoma City to play a Thunder team with the best record (34-12) in the Western Conference even after losing at Utah on Tuesday night.

To win Wednesday night will take more than Blake Griffin scoring 23 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He'll have to do better than his two-for-seven from free-throw line and play better defense.

It'll take more than Nick Young starting for the first time since he was acquired Thursday from the Washington Wizards. Young had 13 points and five rebounds Tuesday.

It'll take a better defensive effort than they displayed against Pacers reserves like Tyler Hansbrough, who had 17 points on seven-for-10 shots, and George Hill, who had 15 points on six-for-seven shooting, three-for-three from three-point range.

And they didn't even lead the Pacers in scoring. That was Danny Granger with 25 points.

"I thought George Hill and Hansbrough were the difference in the game tonight," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Their bench really bothered us."

Hill had eight points in the fourth quarter. He made two three-pointers, the final one giving the Pacers a 14-point lead that finished off the Clippers.

"I think George was definitely a game-changer tonight," Paul said. "I don't remember him missing, if he did. He shot lights-out. It's a credit to him. He played a great game. We didn't really have an answer for it."

The Clippers entered yet another fourth quarter trailing, this time by 12 points.

They then fell into a deeper hole, going down by 19 points in the fourth quarter. That turned out to be insurmountable.

So with 2:15 left in the game and Indiana's David West at the free-throw line, Del Negro had seen enough. He emptied his bench, knowing that the game was over. West made one of two free throws for a 99-85 lead.

"We didn't shoot the ball enough," Del Negro said. "Like I said, I thought their bench really bothered us and we didn't get great production from a lot of guys tonight, just a few guys, and we can't afford that."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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