LOS ANGELES -- When the Los Angeles Clippers arrived at Staples Center Sunday morning they got some good news and bad news.
The good news was that Chris Paul, who had missed the past game and a half with a strained right hamstring, would be back in the starting lineup. The bad news was his teammate in the backcourt, J.J. Redick, would be sidelined for 6-8 weeks with a fracture in the small bone of his right hand and a tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament.
The news didn’t get any better as the day progressed and the Clippers lost 105-100 to the Indiana Pacers.
The Clippers understand the road to being a championship team will take time, but losses to other contenders, not to mention the loss of players, certainly doesn’t help.
How it happened: The Clippers were in this game briefly in stretches after taking a one-point lead late in the second quarter and tying the game up late in the fourth quarter. For the most part, Indiana controlled the game, taking an 11-point lead early and a 14-point lead late.
What it means: The loss drops the Clippers to 13-5 and a tie with the Houston Rockets for the fourth and fifth seeds in the West. The Clippers still have a three-game lead in the Pacific Division but they were certainly hoping to win their last home game in nearly two weeks before going on the road for their next seven games.
Hits: The usual suspects had good games. Chris Paul had 17 points and 10 assists, Blake Griffin had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Jamal Crawford had 20 points off the bench while playing extended minutes with Redick out.
Misses: Willie Green is being put in a tough position having to replace Redick, but he’s got to give the Clippers more while he’s on the floor. On Sunday he only had two points on 1-of-5 shooting and missed all three of his 3-point attempts. That’s not going to cut it if he’s going to be in the starting lineup for the next two months.
Stat of the game: The Clippers have been preaching the importance of defense since the start of training camp and have been playing better of late, but they’ll need to really be better on defense if they’re going to win games without Redick and Matt Barnes. They’re not going to win many games giving up over 100 points as they did again on Sunday.
Up next: The Clippers embark on a seven-game, 13-day trip which begins in Atlanta on Wednesday and continues with games at Memphis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn and Washington. Wednesday’s game at Atlanta will be the Clippers’ first game against the Hawks this season. Atlanta is just 9-9 so far this year but in the down East, that’s good enough for third in the conference behind Indiana and Miami.