Win streaks collide as Pacers host Clippers


Surging opponents meet Tuesday in Indianapolis when the Indiana Pacers host the Los Angeles Clippers.

Los Angeles opens a three-game, Eastern Conference road swing with Tuesday’s contest. The Clippers are riding a five-game winning streak, the most recent a 131-124 defeat of Detroit on Sunday.

Paul George scored 32 points and dished nine assists in the win, while Marcus Morris recorded a season-high 33 points on 13-of-18 shooting from the floor. Los Angeles needed a late-game rally, outscoring Detroit 37-25 in the fourth quarter behind quality minutes from reserves Nicolas Batum and Rajon Rondo.

“Nic Batum, on both ends of the floor, really was good for us,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said in his postgame press conference. “I thought Nic went in and changed the game.”

Bench production is especially critical for Los Angeles with two regular starters — guard Patrick Beverley and center Serge Ibaka — sidelined due to injury. Ibaka has missed 15 games with a back injury, while defensive stopper Beverley has missed 14 of the last 16.

Kawhi Leonard missed Sunday’s win, but the absence was a scheduled rest. The Clippers’ leader in points at 26.0 per game and steals at 1.7 per game should be in the lineup on Tuesday.

Indiana, meanwhile, picked up its third consecutive win with a wire-to-wire, 132-125 defeat of Memphis on Sunday. Caris LeVert, acquired from Brooklyn in a three-team trade in January, scored 34 points — his most since joining the lineup March 13 after recovering from kidney surgery.

Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon both almost registered triple-doubles in the win with Sabonis scoring 18 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and dishing nine assists; and Brogdon going for 29 points, 11 assists and nine boards.

“I keep telling the guards (to) just play off me,” Sabonis said in his postgame press conference. “I’m going to try to make the right read always and get you guys open.”

Indiana scored 35 of its 52 made field goals off of assists at Memphis, and six players scored in double figures. The Pacers primarily utilized lineups with four perimeter players, a move made in response to center Myles Turner’s absence due to a sprained ankle.

Among the guards in the rotation was T.J. McConnell, who scored in double figures for the fifth time in seven games. Doug McDermott has also continued to be a consistent spark, dividing time between the reserves and starting unit.

McDermott has scored in double figures in eight consecutive games, and 17 of the last 18.

The scoring balance has powered the Pacers to at least 132 points in three of their last four wins. They have also given up at least 125 points in as many games over the same stretch.

Finding more defensive consistency could be critical for Indiana as it pushes for a playoff berth. The Pacers are giving up 113.7 points per game, and on Tuesday, face a Clippers side averaging 115.1 points per game — fourth most in the NBA.

–Field Level Media

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