LOS ANGELES — Despite having the NBA’s best record, the Indiana Pacers realize there’s always room for improvement.
David West scored 14 of his 24 points in the third quarter and grabbed 12 rebounds, Paul George had 27 points, and the Pacers improved their best start in franchise history to 16-1 on Sunday with a 105-100 victory that snapped the Los Angeles Clippers’ four-game winning streak.
“We can become a lot better. We’re still nowhere close to where we want to be offensively, and that’s the next step for us,” George said. “The defense is clicking well, the transition defense is clicking well, and we’re playing like a team. This was a great win for us. We knew coming in that it was going to be a hard-fought game.”
Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 20 points – the 10th time this season that a Pacers opponent didn’t have anyone with more than 20. Chris Paul had 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Blake Griffin scored 16 and pulled down 12 rebounds, equaling teammate DeAndre Jordan’s total.
“We’re always up for a challenge, and we had a good one today,” said center Roy Hibbert, who helped fuel the Pacers’ seventh straight win with 19 points. “The Clippers are going to be a contender for the Western Conference finals, so we just had to get in there and grind it out today and finish it off. But we have a lot more work to do. We don’t worry about swagger. We’re just five individuals out there on the court playing together.”
The defending Pacific Division champion Clippers played their first game since finding out that J.J. Redick will be sidelined six to eight weeks because of a broken bone in his shooting hand and a ligament tear in his right elbow.
Redick will be re-evaluated today by hand specialist Dr. Steve Shin to determine what further course of treatment will be necessary. His injuries complicated things even more for the Clippers with reserve forward Matt Barnes missing his sixth straight game due to an eye injury.
“The ligament looks intact, so they shouldn’t have to operate on that,” Redick said. “It’s just the fragments of the bone. It’s still swollen and there’s some pain there. It’s frustrating, because I have enjoyed those 17 games immensely.”
HEAT 99, BOBCATS 98: In Miami, Chris Bosh scored 13 straight points for Miami in the final minutes, including a trio of 3-pointers that capped a late rally, and the Heat found a way to beat the Charlotte to extend their winning streak to 10 games.
LeBron James led the Heat with 26 points and Bosh finished with 22.
NUGGETS 112, RAPTORS 98: In Toronto, Nate Robinson scored 23 points off the bench to Denver.
PISTONS 115, 76ERS 100: In Auburn Hills, Mich., Andre Drummond had 31 points and 19 rebounds for Detroit.
Drummond was limited to 34 minutes, but he still became the first player to have at least 31 points, 19 rebounds and six steals since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1990. He set career highs in all three categories, two days after Maurice Cheeks left him on the bench for the last 21 minutes of Detroit’s loss to the Lakers.
THUNDER 113, TIMBERWOLVES 103: In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant recorded his first triple-double of the season with 32 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, and Oklahoma City rallied for another fourth-quarter win.
WARRIORS 115, KINGS 113: In Sacramento, Calif., Stephen Curry made two free throws with 8.6 seconds left and had 12 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter, helping Golden State.
PELICANS 103, KNICKS 99: In New York, Ryan Anderson made seven 3-pointers and scored 31 points, and New Orleans overcame the loss of Anthony Davis to a broken left hand.