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INDIANAPOLIS — There is never a good time for the Indiana Pacers to be without Roy Hibbert.
But when the high-flying Los Angeles Clippers are in town, it’s really a bad time.
In front of a sellout crowed, All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for 47 points to lead the visiting Clippers to a 99-91 victory Thursday night against the shorthanded Pacers.
Paul scored 29 points, and Griffin had 18 to lead Los Angeles (42-18) to its third straight victory and, in the process, snap the Pacers’ five-game winning streak.
Hibbert, Indiana’s leading rebounder (8.1 rpg) and fourth-leading scorer (10 ppg), served a one-game suspension for his role in Tuesday’s altercation against visiting Golden State. The Pacers (36-22) missed every bit of their starting center’s production.
Ian Mahinmi started for Hibbert, and Jeff Pendegraph assumed Mahinmi’s backup role. The pair combined for seven points and 12 rebounds.
But Hibbert’s absence wasn’t the Pacers’ only problem. Turnovers were a huge one.
So was a lack of production from the second unit.
Danny Granger, playing for the third time since making his season debut Feb. 23, scored 12 points off the bench. The rest of the reserves totaled four points. Pendergaph and rookie Orlando Johnson had two each.
Backup point guard D.J. Augustin played 11 minutes and didn’t score. Forward Tyler Hansbrough played 17 minutes and did likewise.
By comparison, the Clippers got 43 points from their bench, including 23 from Jamal Crawford.
David West led the Pacers with 22 points. All-Star Paul George had 20, and Lance Stephenson added 16. George Hill had 12 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field.
Capitalizing on the Pacers’ offensive struggles, the Clippers broke open in the second half what had been a close game through the first two quarters. Los Angeles extended a 49-47 halftime advantage to 91-74 with 5:38 to play.
Indiana did make things interesting late in the fourth quarter with a 17-4 run that trimmed the deficit to 95-91 with 51 seconds to play but got no closer.
Paul scored the Clippers’ final nine points to seal the outcome.
With the loss, the Pacers fall to 24-6 at home but still have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and maintain the Central Division lead.
Indiana plays tonight at Toronto (23-35) before returning Sunday to Bankers Life Fieldhouse for an 8 p.m. tip against the Chicago Bulls.
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