It’s another ‘awful’ loss for Clippers

On The Clippers

The Indiana Pacers lost their leading scorer to injury before the game yet managed to hang around and ultimately rally from a 13-point, second-half deficit.

Their opponents got their second-leading scorer back on the court, which should have provided some sort of cosmic lift but instead produced a monumental clunker.

And the identity of the team behind door No. 1?

That would be the Clippers. Actually, “identity” is probably the wrong word since the Clippers seem to be desperately searching for one, flailing and grabbing at the wind.

Well, something like that. After the Pacers beat them in embarrassing fashion, 86-73, on Wednesday night at Conseco Fieldhouse, the Clippers returned to their futile quest for answers.

“It was an awful loss for us,” Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy said.

“Awful” may not even begin to cover it.

The Clippers (6-10) led by 13 points in the third quarter, and again, watched their lead dwindle and, again, managed to let it vanish in the fourth. They didn’t score in the final 2 minutes 10 seconds, and didn’t hit a field goal after Mardy Collins pulled them to within four points with 4:36 remaining.

Indiana, playing without leading scorer Danny Granger (sprained ligament in his left knee), finished the game on a 12-3 run and handed the Clippers their first loss in three games, and third straight road defeat.

The Clippers looked like the team having played the previous night out of town, not the Pacers. Toronto crushed Indiana, 123-112, on Tuesday and the Pacers came out Wednesday looking ragged, shooting 17.4% in the first quarter and scoring a season-low 12 points. Their 34 points in the first half tied their fewest in a half this season.

Unfortunately, for the Clippers, there wasn’t much of a lasting impact of team-wide energy from the return of shooting guard Eric Gordon, who missed eight consecutive games because of a strained groin.

Gordon, the homegrown Indiana star playing in front of a large gathering of family and friends, entered the game early, with 4:42 remaining in the first quarter, and showed his trademark explosiveness in short order, driving to the rim hard a couple of minutes later.

He played 27-plus minutes and scored six points, and had three turnovers.

“My timing was off,” he said. “It just wasn’t going my way. The timing wasn’t there for me. . . . We definitely should have won. There’s no ifs about it. We should have won the game.”

Gordon was hardly the only culpable one. There was a long list ahead of him. Center Chris Kaman and Al Thornton were a combined five for 34 from the field, and Rasual Butler was scoreless. Kaman had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Thornton scored five points.

Kaman, the Clippers’ leading scorer, has had a dreadful week. He was six for 20 against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday and three for 19 against the Pacers.

“It was just a frustrating night, shots I normally make, shots other guys normally make,” Kaman said. “Just not finishing plays down the stretch. It’s part of basketball.

“There’s ups and downs. We’ve got to roll with it. We couldn’t finish the game.”

Kaman was asked if the Minnesota performance had a carry-over effect, denting his confidence.

“I think it did; shooting six for 20 is rough,” Kaman said. “Those were shots I’ve been making all year. I haven’t been feeling the greatest lately. I’ve just got to get back to playing the way I was before. I’m struggling. Al’s struggling a little bit.

Marcus Camby was a force on the boards, finishing with a season-high 21 rebounds, though only one in the fourth quarter, and added 15 points, hitting his first three-point shot of the season.

Baron Davis bounced back from his woeful shooting night against Minnesota, going 11 for 19 against the Pacers and scoring 25 points.

Davis did provide one of the rare amusing second-half moments when he got into it with the Pacers’ T.J. Ford in the fourth quarter and their back-and-forth extended all the way to the far sideline.

“He was just pulling on me,” Davis said. “It wasn’t nothing serious. Just him trying to frustrate me, but I wouldn’t let that happen.”

Davis scored seven straight points after their tussle. “He knew. He knew what was coming,” Davis said. “He knew what was coming when that happened.”