Clippers lose to short-handed Pacers, 107-80
Maybe this happened somewhere over Iowa or Illinois airspace.
Whatever energy and grit the Clippers showed in Minneapolis must have ejected on the short plane ride here from Minnesota.
Lousy basketball turned into epically bad basketball Thursday night against the Pacers at Conseco Fieldhouse. An undermanned Indiana team, no less.
The Pacers, missing starters Darren Collison and Mike Dunleavy Jr., defeated the Clippers, 107-80, extending the Clippers’ losing streak to eight games. They are 1-12 and have yet to win on the road.
More telling statistics to ponder: The Pacers (5-5) had a season-high 14 blocked shots, and the Clippers shot a season-low 33% from the field.
Still, cold hard numbers hardly are the best way to tell the story of a season slipping quickly into the abyss. All you had to do was look at the Clippers’ bench in the fourth quarter after the game had spiraled out of hand.
Blake Griffin had a towel over part of his head.
(Frankly, who would have blamed him if he used it to block the ugly view of the unfolding wreckage?)
The Clippers’ rookies, as well as Craig Smith and Eric Gordon — another Indiana homecoming ruined — had the glazed look of survivors who had stumbled away from a car crash, wondering where to go next.
“Something has got to change,” said Griffin, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. “After a while, you can’t just say — we do have to keep working — but you can’t just keep working and keep losing. It comes down to who wants it more, a little bit of heart. We just need to find that.”
He wants to be an agent of change. The most obvious form of assistance, of course, would be getting center Chris Kaman back in the lineup. Griffin can do many things, but he’s not a medical miracle worker.
Any other suggestions?
“We’ll work on it tomorrow,” Griffin said. “I’ve got some ideas.”
This has become Griffin and Gordon’s team, and Griffin, especially, has been asserting himself more on this two-game trip. He was especially animated in the huddle in the timeout with about a minute and a half to go in Minnesota and did most of the talking.
Here, he silenced a complaining DeAndre Jordan — who wasn’t happy about a call in the first quarter — with a stern look and words.
Gordon, too, has leadership abilities, especially by example. He had a big first quarter and was on his way to a huge game until the Pacers wisely changed defensive assignments.
“We had way too many letdowns and just gave up the game,” said Gordon, who had 19 points and was five for 17 from the field.
He remains confident that the Clippers will figure it out. But he agreed with some of Griffin’s takes.
“Something has to [change],” Gordon said. “We’re doing the same thing every game. There have been times where we’ve played well and played through mistakes and somehow we let it get down way too far where we can’t come back.
“We didn’t seem like a team in the second half. We just weren’t ourselves.”