Pacers hold off Clippers, show growth in one-point win: Running Thoughts
The Pacers won five of their last six games, wins against Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland and LAC over the final 10 days of 2022. At 20-17, they're sixth in the East.
Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 131-130 win over the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday afternoon at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Happy New Year. I hope you ended the year strong and are looking forward to a successful and more joyful 2023.
There are nine NBA games today, but this is the only day game. So all attention is on this one for fans and league personnel alike.
What a difference a year makes. The Pacers are in good health, with just two players on the injury report: Daniel Theis and two-way forward Kendall Brown.
For the Clippers, it’s the final game of a five-game road trip. And how about this, the Pacers are getting them at full strength. They’re not opting to hold out Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, etc. They are without Nicolas Batum.
For Leonard, it’s his first time playing in Indy since Feb. 2017. He was still with the San Antonio Spurs then. Crazy.
Rev It Up: Indiana Fever forward Emily Engstler.
Cool moment before the game as PG gave big hugs to Pacers athletic trainers Josh Corbeil and Carl Eaton, both of whom worked closely with him during his seven seasons in Indy. Especially after his major injury.
When former players return, the first thing they usually mention is their relationships and affinity for the training staff.
PG, booed when he touches the ball, scores the first basket of the game: a 3-pointer on the left arc. He then took three of their first seven shots.
Aaron Nesmith guarding George, Andrew Nembhard on Leonard.
6:38: Pacers called timeout, then Marcus Morris Sr. has some words for Nembhard and shoves him. Double technical given out, which is always silly and a cop-out. Veteran James Johnson rushed out to have some words as well; he knows what Morris is trying to do to the rookie.
That’s the first technical of Nembhard’s career.
Midway through the quarter, Buddy Hield has already made three 3s. The sharpshooting continues… A quick 12 points — and the Clippers have 14.
He was 1 for 9 from distance in their first meeting.
Pacers shot 57% in the first, made five 3s and have a 10-point lead on the Clippers, 32-22. Really good energy in the building and from the team. The defensive intensity stood out and they allowed just six paint points. (The Cavs has 72 last game.)
9:04: George sits back on defense, daring T.J. McConnell to launch a 3. So he did and made it, just TJM’s sixth of the season. I can’t tell you how much he’s been working on that shot, but it’s daily with assistant coach Jenny Boucek.
Despite persistent boos, PG is right at home and in a groove. He’s made 7 of 11 shots and is up to 17 points. Since he was dealt, the Pacers haven’t had an elite wing defender. That’s what they’re missing; perhaps it could be Nesmith, although he’s just 6-foot-5.
Both teams shot better than 51%, the Pacers led the majority of the half and head to the locker room up 62-55. Key stat: Pacers +2 on the glass and winning the paint, 28-14.