They appeared sluggish, uninterested on defense early, and it didn't help that they were playing the perpetually stuck-in-slow-motion
The Clippers finally accelerated just enough over the final 3 1/2 minutes of a 102-100 victory at Staples Center, their top players doing what they do best. Well, sort of.
Chris Paul made a 14-foot fadeaway jumper, Blake Griffin drove for a dunk and
Jordan's clutch free throws probably weren't part of Clippers Coach
"We do ask him to make those," Rivers said of Jordan, who made seven of 15 free throws on the way to 15 points and a season-high 23 rebounds. "That doesn't mean he will."
Jordan stepped into his final two free throws with confidence to give the Clippers a 94-93 lead with 3:34 remaining. The baskets by Paul and Griffin extended the Clippers' advantage to four points and they held on for a second consecutive victory after the Pacers'
"Going to the line," Jordan said, "I felt confident in every free throw that I shot tonight."
Indiana had a chance to take the lead after Griffin lost the ball on a pick-and-roll play for a turnover with 29 seconds left, but
"I messed up a lot down the stretch and you never want to do that because you put your team in a bad situation," said Griffin, who finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds, "but we were fortunate to pull it out."
Paul had 20 points, nine assists and five steals to help the Clippers (18-7) beat the Pacers for the second time in eight days.
The Clippers won Wednesday in part by holding Indiana to seven points over the final 5:36.
"We had a couple of mental errors late in the game," Jordan said, "but ultimately we came down, got stops and that's what won us the game."
Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford reverted to scoring mode, collecting all 10 of his points in the first half one game after he missed all six shots but collected seven assists against Detroit.
He made four of seven shots overall, showing that the burst bursa sac in his right elbow that he had suffered the previous week against the Pacers was not hindering his shooting touch.
The Pacers trailed 52-51 at halftime after successfully implementing the hack-a-Jordan strategy late in the second quarter. Jordan missed three of four free throws after being intentionally fouled twice.
"He works on it," Rivers said of Jordan and his free throws. "I know he's a point of contention with a lot of people, but they don't see him in the gym working on his free throws."
It showed when it mattered against the Pacers.