Clippers hang tough to beat Pacers

Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford spark Clippers' ninth win in a row, 103-96

At times, it seemed as if the Clippers were playing against the Clippers on Wednesday night.

The Clippers' starters built a 15-point lead in the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers. The reserves gave 10 points back by the half. The starters built a 20-point lead in the third quarter. The reserves gave back all but two of the points in the fourth quarter.

But with the help of Jamal Crawford, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, the Clippers held on for a 103-96 victory over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

With six players scoring in double figures, the Clippers ran their winning streak to nine games.

"The key is pulling it out," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "Listen, it was basically a replay of the first half. The starters come in and get a big lead. The second unit comes in and loses it. The starters have got to hold on. Fortunately we were able to do that."

The Clippers started strong, shooting 54.2% in the first quarter, when J.J. Redick had 10 of his 16 points.

When Griffin (17 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocks) threw down a lob from Paul for a dunk, the Clippers had opened a 28-13 lead.

But the reserves gave that away, letting the lead slip to 33-25 at the end of the first quarter.

The starters came back out strong, opening an 82-62 lead in the third quarter, when Matt Barnes had all 11 of his points.

But when that lead was cut to nine points in the fourth, it forced Rivers to call a timeout to gather his team.

The lead was sliced to five points about two minutes later, and Rivers called another timeout, hoping to settle his team again.

It didn't work right away.

The Pacers used their momentum to cut the lead to 98-96 on a basket by Lavoy Allen, forcing Los Angeles to play this game out to the final tense minutes.

Of course, it was a reserve who gave the Clippers some breathing room.

Crawford drilled a 20-foot jumper off a pass from Paul for a 100-96 lead with one minute, 50 seconds left.

That left it up to the Clippers' defense.

After C.J. Miles missed a three-pointer, Griffin made one of two free throws.

Then Paul played good defense on Rodney Stuckey, forcing him to miss a 20-foot jumper.

Paul got the rebound and was fouled. He made two free throws for the final margin, allowing the Clippers to escape and send the Pacers to their sixth consecutive loss.

"The good thing about it is that we didn't get rattled," Paul, who had 17 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds. "We're starting to get that confidence to know that we keep playing the same way and defend and get stops."

Crawford, who had 18 points on seven-for-12 shooting, summed it up: "It's good to learn lessons in wins. I'd much rather do that than learn them in losses."

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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