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Mar 25, 2024 8:02 am

Pacers have plenty of incentive headed into clash vs. Clippers

Indiana Pacers

A pair of teams with an eye on a top-four spot in their respective conferences will do battle Monday night when the Los Angeles Clippers host the Indiana Pacers.

Since briefly ascending to the top spot of the Western Conference last month, the Clippers (44-26) have wobbled of late. Los Angeles has lost five of its last eight games yet still sits in fourth place with 12 games remaining.

The Pacers (40-32) are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and in possession of the final a guaranteed playoff spot, but their grip is tenuous after a 150-145 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. The Pacers are three games outside of the fourth spot and just a half-game ahead of the No. 7 Miami Heat.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle noted the major difference in foul calls Sunday, with the Pacers whistled for 31 and the Lakers 14.

“I thought our guys really battled in this game,” Carlisle said after the Lakers went 38 of 43 from the free-throw line, compared with 9 of 16 for the Pacers. “There were just certain things that were impossible to overcome. A 27 free-throw differential is one, and a 17-foul differential is the other.”

Despite the defeat, Indiana still has won five of its last eight games and is 2-1 on a five-game trip that will end Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls. Including Monday’s game, the Pacers have just 10 games remaining in the regular season.

Pascal Siakam scored 36 points on Sunday, his highest output since joining the Pacers, and Myles Turner added 20. But Tyrese Haliburton was held to 12 points, even with two late 3-pointers that brought Indiana to within one possession in the final minute.

The second day of a back-to-back has not been kind to Indiana. After the loss against the Lakers, the Pacers have a 9-4 record in the first game of a back-to-back. They are 2-10 on the back half, however.

Indiana is dealing with its final back-to-back scheduling scenario of the season.

The Clippers will enter off a 121-107 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

James Harden scored just 12 points against his former team on 5-of-13 shooting from the floor, while missing all six of his 3-point attempts. Harden did have 14 assists.

Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell each had 20 points and Paul George added 18 as Los Angeles made 10 3-pointers while shooting 35.7 percent from long distance. Philadelphia made 18 shots from deep and shot 48.6 percent.

“I didn’t think we started the game with the physicality, and they got comfortable early in the game making 3s,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.

The Clippers trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half before they tied the game on three separate occasions in the third quarter. But the 76ers regained a double-digit lead with 9:26 remaining and were up by 20 points down the stretch.

“We have a veteran group of guys, so we will get there,” George said. “We just got to lock in and focus; I don’t think our focus has been where it needs to be on certain occasions, so we just got to lock in as a group.”

After Monday’s game, the Clippers still have two back-to-backs remaining this season. They are 6-6 on the back half of games on consecutive days.

–Field Level Media

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