Clippers’ playoff hopes take another hit

LOS ANGELES, CA-The Los Angeles Clippers erased a 16-point first half lead as they fell to the visiting Indiana Pacers inside Staples Center on Easter Sunday.

“It’s been difficult before tonight, so this [loss] doesn’t hurt more than the one last week or the week before that,” said Clippers shooting guard Lou Williams, who scored 15 of his 20 points off the bench in the fourth quarter. “We’ve been in critical mode for a few weeks now.”

The Clippers are now three games back from the eighth spot in the Western conference playoff picture. With five games left in the season, the Clippers are still hopeful that the final home game of the regular season played against the Los Angeles Lakers on April 11 will not be the team’s last.

The Los Angeles Clippers’ playoff chances took a hit with the team’s recent loss to the Indiana Pacers at Staples Center. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

Meanwhile, the Pacers have secured their spot in the playoffs and are now battling for seeding. Currently, Indiana is in fifth place in the Eastern conference, half a game behind the Philadelphia 76ers. The win against the Clippers made it five straight for the Pacers with Victor Oladipo leading the charge.

”We’re showing growth,” Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. ”Victor gave up the ball, trusted his teammates and those guys did a great job knocking down shots and moving the ball, which is playing the game the right way.”

Oladipo ended the game with 30 points and a season-high 12 assists.. His 13-point second quarter performance was the momentum shift the Pacers needed heading into halftime. Oladipo led the Pacers to 15-2 run to close the first half of play. The Pacers were back to a one-point game at the half (51-50).

The Indiana Pacers outscored the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter of their game at Staples Center to come away with a 111-104 win Sunday, April 1, 2018. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

“It was tough, they had a great start and we kind of started off a little slow, but we regrouped in the second quarter and things started grooving for us,” Oladipo said. “We started being effective.”

The third quarter was a tug of war as both teams claimed the lead at times. The game was tied three times in the third as the Pacers took their first lead, 65-61, on a basket by second year center Myles Turner.

“My teammates did a great job of stepping up and doing great things,” said Oladipo. “It’s huge when guys step up and play like that, so we’re really good when we do that.”

Turner scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds. It ultimately came down to the final quarter of play. With 1:11 left in the fourth quarter it was a one-point game. The Pacers led  105-104.

“Overall we just broke down too many times defensively and gave up some looks for them that they were able to make,” said Tobias Harris, who scored a team-high 21 points with seven assists.

Bojan Bogdanovic hit a three-pointer for the Pacers in a defensive breakdown by Tyrone Wallace that put the game away.

“We’re still in it, we have to keep fighting and we just have to be ready,” commented Harris.

The Clippers will host the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday. The Spurs are coming off a win against the No.1 seeded Houston Rockets after the Clippers have lost two straight games.

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