Pacers use offensive explosion to defeat Clippers, 133-116

Jordon Kelly - The Sporting Tribune
Pacers demolish Clippers, who lose their fifth straight home game and fall to the five seed in the Western Conference

LOS ANGELES – Ty Lue pregame said, “yeah it is concerning” when asked about the players not knowing what is going wrong with the team. Now, the Clippers have fallen to the fifth seed in the Western Conference. After a few great games in Portland, they have dropped two in a row in embarrassing fashion. 

In both of the last two games, they have been within ten points entering the fourth quarter and in both matchups have been outmatched to start the quarter. Although Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both had 26 points, it was ultimately the defense that was overmatched. 

The Clippers are now 44-27 and the 5th seed in the Western Conference, due to a tiebreaker with New Orleans. 

Here are my three takeaways:

The Clippers ranked in the bottom ten in defensive rating since the “Grammy Trip,” and over the last two games, have completely fallen apart both in transition and on the boards. The emphasis for this team has to be on the defensive side of the basketball and although there have been some very bad losses, it seems as if things are not clicking. 

The Pacers are one of the best offensive teams in the NBA, but for a team in the Clippers that has multiple two way defenders, and players that have shown to be elite at times this season, I can understand coach Ty Lue’s frustration. Something has to change and it has to happen now, or else the Play-In Tournament could be a real possibility. 

The Clippers needed Russell Westbrook on Monday night. The veteran point guard returned from a three week long absence and provided instant energy, spark and efficiency. He finished with 14 points, 7 assists, and two rebounds in only 18 minutes. 

While Westbrook was one of the best players on the court against Indiana, it is a little bit shocking to see he only played 18 minutes. I do think Russ was a bigger x-factor than James Harden and would’ve liked to see his minutes bumped up into the thirties, considering coach Lue said there were no minutes restrictions before the game. 

“We’re soft,” is the phrase that Ty Lue used to describe the team’s identity after the game on Monday night. The sky may seem like it’s falling for the Clippers, but there is no time or room for them to hang their heads and sulk. The Clippers are now the fifth seed in the Western Conference and only a few games up on the teams behind them in the Play-In Tournament.

With games against many playoff opponents, such as Phoenix, Denver, Houston and Cleveland, mixed in with some less formidable in Charlotte and Utah, it will not be easy at all. Although it is a fall from grace in the past month and a half, this team can be elite again, but as Kawhi Leonard said before, it is all between the ears. 

The Clippers will now embark on a four game road trip, which begins in Philadelphia against the Sixers on Wednesday. Tipoff is set for 4:30 PM PST.