Clippers-Pacers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 19, 2012
The Los Angeles Clippers' offense hasn't been overly impressive recently, but Chris Paul's late-game heroics have carried the team to a pair of wins. The Indiana Pacers need someone to step up to help stop their slide. Los Angeles opens a set of back-to-back-to-back road games Tuesday night when the Pacers try to avoid a seventh loss in nine games. After dropping three of four to open their six-game homestand, the Clippers (26-18) finished that grueling eight-day stretch with four-point victories over Houston and Detroit. While Los Angeles averaged just 91.0 points on 40.5 percent shooting in those wins, Paul made half of his 30 shots and totaled 42 points. He scored 12 of his 23 in the final 2:42 of Saturday's 95-91 win over the Rockets, then had nine of his 19 in overtime Sunday in an 87-83 victory over the Pistons. The All-Star point guard is among the NBA's best with an average of 6.9 points in the fourth quarter. "You'd be hard-pressed to find a better guy with the ball late in the game than Chris in this league," said coach Vinny Del Negro, whose team next gets back-to-back days off April 20-21. While the Clippers sit 1 1/2 games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the Pacific Division lead, the Pacers (25-18) have virtually no shot of catching the league-best Chicago Bulls in the Central Division after losing six of eight following a season-best 6-0 run. Indiana has scored over 100 points twice in its last eight games after doing so in each of its previous five. "Our offense just isn't working," forward Danny Granger said Saturday after the Pacers were swept in a home-and-home set by New York with a 102-88 home loss. "We're not getting the job done. Our goal is to win games, and we're not going to win games this way." Perhaps the addition of veteran guard Leandro Barbosa will provide a spark. Acquired from Toronto on Thursday for a second-round draft pick and cash, Barbosa is expected to make his Pacers debut Tuesday. He scored a team-high 19 points for the Raptors in a 103-91 road loss to the Clippers on Jan. 22. While Indiana needs to get its offense in gear, it faces a stiff test against All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who had a career-high 47 points in the last meeting, a 114-107 home win for the Clippers on Jan. 17, 2011. Given the outside shot by the Pacers, Griffin hit a number of tough jumpers and made a career-best 19 field goals while also grabbing 14 rebounds. Griffin had 12 points with eight boards as the Clippers were routed 107-80 in their last visit to Indianapolis on Nov. 18, 2010. The Pacers have won four in a row against Western Conference foes and are 9-3 against teams outside the East. The Clippers have won 11 of 15 against the East, taking four of six on the road.
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