by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13
Final Score: Indiana 107, Los Angeles 80
The Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Clippers are more similar than you think. They are just in different stages. An easy testament to this is the starting lineups that hit the hardwood last night. With Chris Kaman and Baron Davis out, the Clippers youth struggled while the Pacers are proving that they have come a long way from their rookie seasons.
On one side you have players that need game experience, that have to go through trial and error so that they can learn how to play basketball and succeed at the highest level. On the other hand you haveplayers who have been through all of the losing, been through many of the learning processes that take place at the NBA level. In many ways the Pacers are what the Clippers hope to become—a franchise that nurtures its players and attains success through successful drafting, being patient while they marinate in the system, and picking up veterans that can help their team along the way.
Eric Gordon‘s return to Indiana last night, which was filled with highs (this dunk and some very nice early jumpers) and lows (5-17 from the field, Brandon Rush knocking in trey after trey on him) was overshadowed by his teams literal non-stop struggles from game to game this season. Two nights ago Michael Beasley lit the team up for 33, including the game winning jumper with under a second to play.
In the locker room before the game I overheard Willie Warren and Eric Bledsoe discussing how it seems that somebody is scoring 30+ points on them every night (Actually just 5/12 times this season). But when you lose 12 out of 13 games to start the year, I guess that’s just how you feel.
On the other hand, the Pacers are 5-5. This win put them right back at .500, a hurdle that the team hopes to clear and stay over. They are second behind Chicago in the Central division, and their role players are coming together around their star player Danny Granger.
“We wanted to do it on the defensive end. We accomplished that goal, shot the ball well, and we knew that after losing that game the other night that we wanted to get back to .500 and we took care of business,” said the All-Star small forward who dropped 22 points, and also made things very difficult for Eric Gordon on the other end.
For the Pacers, the matured mindset is beginning to show itself in the form of more consistent play night-in, night-out and more victories.
Unfortunately for the Clippers, the victories are a long ways away. Maybe their head coach put it best: “It’s always a battle but we have good guys,” said Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro. “We’ve had a tough go of it early on in the season with the injuries and the young guys getting valuable experience. We just got to stick together, keep working, and hopefully we’ll get some guys back so that we can start playing better on both ends—especially the defensive end.”