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Clippers blow 15-point lead in 111-102 loss to Pacers

Clippers blow 15-point lead in 111-102 loss to Pacers
Clippers guard Chris Paul reacts to a foul called on teammate JJ Redick late in a game against the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 4. (Paul Buck / EPA)

A week later, nothing had changed between the Clippers and the Indiana Pacers where it mattered most.

A more energized start and a frantic comeback could not compensate for the Clippers' shortcomings during the balance of their 111-102 loss Sunday night at Staples Center.

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The Clippers' reserves struggled early in the game and the entire team was horrible during a third quarter in which it was outscored, 35-17, necessitating a massive rally it could not complete.

"I thought that six-minute stretch to begin the second quarter hurt us," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said, "and then I thought the first six minutes in the third quarter destroyed us."

The Clippers appear to be in their first funk of the season after losing for the fourth time in their last six games, two of the defeats coming against the Pacers in a span of seven days.

There were some improvements over that recent road loss to Indiana, when the Clippers scored only 70 points for their lowest output of the Rivers era.

They came out strong Sunday, building a 15-point lead in the first quarter, and fought almost to the finish, shaving what had been a 20-point deficit to four on a putback dunk by DeAndre Jordan with 1:26 left in which he was fouled by Indiana's Paul George.

But Jordan missed the resulting free throw and George gathered a deflected pass in the corner on the Pacers' next possession for a three-pointer that gave the Pacers a 107-100 lead. George gleefully bounded toward his teammates during the timeout that followed while the Clippers trudged off the court, their fate essentially sealed.

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"We had three, four, five times during the game where we made runs and they made a three or we turned it over, they got an offensive rebound, we fouled two three-point shooters," Rivers said. "So it's just one of those nights."

Blake Griffin had 24 points, 16 rebounds and five assists and Chris Paul added 18 points and 11 assists for the Clippers (16-6), who concluded a stretch of six weeks without two days off between games.

There was a visible fatigue factor as the Clippers committed 20 turnovers and continually settled for jump shots while shooting 44.4% and making 10 of 30 three-pointers (33.3%). Clippers shooting guard J.J. Redick made only five of 15 shots on the way to 15 points.

"We didn't look like we had it tonight," Griffin said after making 10 of 21 shots. "You could tell with the types of shots we were missing and the types of turnovers we had. It was everybody."

Said Paul: "I was in the huddle just telling guys, 'Just win the game, ball it up and throw it away.'"

Thaddeus Young had 17 points to lead all five Indiana starters in double-figure scoring. Guard Rodney stuck added 16 points off the bench for the Pacers.

Rivers disagreed with the notion that his team was in a rut.

"I just feel like we're losing individual games," Rivers said. "I don't think we're ever going to be in a funk with this team, I really don't. We may drop games here and there, but I think we're going to win a lot more than we lose. This is a good basketball team, I think a great team, but we have to do that every night.

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"I told our guys at halftime, 'We can't have bad nights, we've got to have hard nights,' and right now we're having bad nights. A hard night means that you didn't play well but you figure out a way to win. A bad night, that means you didn't figure it out and you lost the game and right now we're having bad nights."

Twitter: @latbbolch

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