Clippers withstand Pacers rally to win 99-91 in Indianapolis

It was an inter-conference showdown Thursday between two of the NBA’s rising franchises as the Clippers headed to the Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to take on the Pacers.  Both teams played up to their high levels, and the Clippers held off a late Pacers rally to win 99-91 thanks to numerous clutch baskets by point guard Chris Paul.
The Pacers were without their starting center and rebound leader Roy Hibbert, who was serving his single-game suspension for his role in a brawl with Golden State Tuesday that spilled into the crowd.

Clippers led for all of the first quarter, but Indiana’s Paul George and Danny Granger teamed up with efficient shooting to keep the score close.

Granger looks to be returning to form in his second game since missing most of the season with a knee injury.  He shot well in the first few minutes with nine points, scoring at a high percentage with mid-range jump shots.
Clippers Sixth Man of the year front-runner Jamal Crawford was a hot scorer out the gate as well.  Crawford returned after missing a single game for the birth of his child.     He scored 12 points in the first half on five-for-nine shooting.  He finished the game with 2 points.  Crawford was one of three Clippers along with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin with over 20 points.
The Pacers went a bit dry in the second quarter from the field, allowing the Clippers get some separation with a nine point lead.  The Pacers then put together a scoring run after a timeout in the final minutes of the half.  Stevenson nailed a three with about a minute left to make it a one-point game.   Clippers never trailed in the first half, but they fell asleep leaving David West open for a three-pointer as time expired that ended the half with a two-point spread.
It stayed close through the beginning of the second half.  Both teams had several lapses in defense.  After being grounded the entire game, Griffin had an explosive left-handed dunk that will be featured on most of the night’s highlight reels.  Griffin finished the game with a double-double.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Clippers tightened up on defense and grew a lead with points in transition.   Suddenly, the clippers widened their lead to seventeen.  After two straight threes by the Pacers, the lead was narrowed to 11 with just under five minutes left.
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro called a timeout to try and cool the run, but Pacer Guard Lance Stephenson got an easy layup to make it nine.  After a quick stop, Paul George hit a three that got the Pacers to within six points on an 11-0 run.
The Pacers got within four points with two minutes left, then Chris Paul and David west traded baskets, with Paul answering on consecutive possessions to make it a six-point game.   Paul iced the game by making the game’s final three baskets.
Paul finished with a game-high 29 points and eight assists.