Once tonight’s 24-point comeback fell three points short, the Clippers fell to 49-26 on the season, two games back in the loss column of both the Nuggets and Grizzlies. That 50th win of the season has been the carrot dangling in front of the Clips’ collective nose for a little while now – they just can’t seem to pull it out. The good news? L.A.’s magic number is 1 to clinch its first division title in franchise history, so I guess that’s something. Now onto Last Call:
Recap | Box score
Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: Slump no more. Roy Hibbert was a perfect 8-for-8 in the first half and finished with 26 points. No one would have guessed it, but the Pacers ended up needing every single one of Hibbert’s pretty jumpers and putbacks.
Well that was…unexpected: The Pacers were dominating. Chris Paul had one made field goal, Roy Hibbert and Paul George couldn’t be contained, and the lead was as big as 24. The Clippers just showed up a little too late.
X-Factor: The Clippers’ bench caught fire and stymied the Pacers with a zone in the fourth quarter, but Indiana ultimately iced the game by converting their last eight attempts at the free throw line.
– D.J. Foster
Tweet(s) of the Game
Pacers demolishing the Clippers in LA. It’s 79-55 in 3Q. Clippers looking like they’d rather be on spring break.
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 2, 2013
Everything about that play was cool, except for the part where they threw it to Lamar.
— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) April 2, 2013
Clippers fall to 10-13 vs. Playoff teams since 1/1. That’s a problem with the Playoffs starting in 18 days.
— NBA Guru (@NBAGuru) April 2, 2013
Eric Bledsoe Per 36 Stat O’ The Night
ClipperBlog Live’s Best Moment
D.J. drops a major bomb, completely blowing up Andrew’s game altogether in a relatively somber CBL.
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But Where’s the Residue?
There’s a randomness to sports that we don’t always appreciate in our efforts to romanticize clutchness and close finishes. I believe in being clutch. I believe in having the guts to want to throw up the last shot. But often, the outcome of close games depends on luck as much as anything else. The Clippers are three calls away in the past week from having a great stretch. If Blake Griffin doesn’t get called for that offensive foul against Dallas, that’s a win. If there’s a foul called on the final Chris Paul shot against the Spurs, maybe that’s a win. If there’s a foul called on the Matt Barnes tip-in to make it a one-point game with 2.1 seconds left against the Pacers, that might turn into a win, too.
The randomness or luck bug has bitten the Clippers. But that being said, one of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Branch Rickey: “Luck is the residue of design”. And right now, the Clippers have no design.
– Fred Katz
Slow Starts Stymie Clippers
The Clippers finished the game strong, but not quite strong enough to get the win. That has been the theme in recent losses to Dallas, San Antonio and now Indiana – the Clippers haven’t been able to get over the hump in crunch time. I highlighted their late-game issues a couple weeks ago, but another perturbing trend I’ve noticed is that the Clippers aren’t starting games off particularly well, either.
L.A. ran into the best defense in basketball tonight. From the opening tip, the Pacers did what they wanted, and for the most part, dictated the Clippers’ offense (a few key Clipper plays notwithstanding). It was frustrating to watch that brutal first quarter. Of the Clippers’ first eight field goals, six were jump shots from nine feet or further. The Pacers did not let them get to the rim, which was the game plan.
That slow start cost the Clippers the game. And slow(er) starts have cost the Clippers recently. For the season, they generally outscore their first quarter opponent 25.4 points to 23.8 points. During their last 34 games (all the games after they started 32-9), in which they’re 17-17, that figure is a mere 25.7 to 25.1. During their lauded 17-game win streak, the mark was a more than respectable 25.7 to 21.9.
The point being the Clippers aren’t starting or finishing games well right now. And that’s a problem.
– Jovan Buha
Chris Paul Finishes
Here’s how each Chris Paul team that made the playoffs has finished in the last 20 games of its regular season:
Last 20: 14-6
Last 20: 10-10
Last 20: 11-9
Last 20: 14-6
– Patrick James
Anatomy of an Almost Victory
– Andrew Han