INDIANAPOLIS — One coach was mystified by his unproductive bench, the other by his slumping starters.
On a night when half a game was better than none at all, the Los Angeles Clippers got double-figure scoring from all five starters and eventually a big lift from reserve guard Jamal Crawford, who made two huge jumpers down the stretch to stave off a furious Indiana Pacers rally and deliver a 103-96 victory Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Crawford scored 18 off the bench to lead the Clippers (16-5) to their ninth in a row, the fourth-longest streak in franchise history, but not before his team blew a 15-point, first-half lead and nearly lost a 20-point advantage late in the third quarter.
“The important thing is we kept fighting even though we let those leads slip up,” Crawford said. “I’d rather learn a lesson in a win. I’d much rather have it that way.”
Guard Chris Paul had 17 points and 15 assists, forward Blake Griffin 17 points and 10 rebounds and center DeAndre Jordan 12 points and 19 rebounds as three of the Clippers’ five starters posted double-doubles. Guard J.J. Redick scored 16 points, and forward Matt Barnes added 11. Beyond Crawford, the Clippers got just 12 points from their reserves.
“Just inconsistent,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said of his bench. “One night they play great. If you look at some of our wins, they’ve come in and extended the lead, and honestly I don’t know the answer, and that’s my job, and I told our coaches that. I walked in and I was upset because it’s got to be something I’m doing, and I’ve got to figure it out.”
Indiana’s second unit produced 66 points, led by a season-high 30 from guard C.J. Miles, who made seven of 14 from 3-point range. However, it wasn’t enough to keep the Pacers (7-15) from their second six-game losing streak of the season, matching the longest skid of coach Frank Vogel’s tenure.
Including the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks, when he scored 15 points, Miles has made 11 of 20 (55 percent) from 3-point range in his last five quarters. In his first 13 games, he made 11 of 57 (19.3 percent).
“Can’t make it unless you shoot it,” Miles said. “That’s the main reason I’m in here every single day to work on my craft. The only thing you can do to get out of it is shoot it. You can’t go out there hesitant about what you do. Knowing it’s something I’ve been able to do well is one of the reasons why I’m put on the floor. … The last couple games, I’ve just been able to see some go in, start to feel better and better and start to see the game the right way.”
Forwards Lavoy Allen (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Luis Scola (12 points, 14 rebounds) both had double-doubles off the Indiana bench. The only Indiana starters to score in double figures were forward Chris Copeland and guard Rodney Stuckey with 10 apiece.
Indiana’s starting lineup has been outscored 297-182 the last four games, a deficit of 28.8 per game.
“They’re giving effort,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “I don’t think they’re in any kind of rhythm, and we’ll evaluate what needs to happen with that group, either changing the starting lineup or tweaking how we play with that group to get them to play better. It either has to change or we have to use it differently to make it succeed. Something’s got to change to get off to better starts.”
Down 82-62 late in the third, the reserves brought the Pacers back with a 21-6 run that cut the deficit to 88-83 with 7:32 remaining, setting up the tight finish.
Scola’s layup cut it to 95-92 with 3:09 left, but Crawford answered with a 3-pointer. After consecutive buckets by Allen closed the gap to 98-96, Crawford hit another jumper to make it a four-point game with 1:50 left. The Pacers would not score again.
NOTES: The Clippers regained the services of backup G Jordan Farmar, who missed the previous two games due to back spasms. … Two games remain in the Pacers’ stretch of eight in a row against opponents with winning records (at Toronto on Friday and vs. Portland on Saturday). … Inactive for the Clippers were G/F Reggie Bullock (ankle sprain) and G/F Chris Douglas-Roberts (strained Achilles tendon). … Indiana’s inactives were F Paul George (broken leg) and G George Hill (torn quadriceps).
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