LOS ANGELES (AP) — Roy Hibbert had 26 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out, Paul George added 23 points and 10 assists, and the Indiana Pacers barely completed a sweep of their four-game road trip with a 109-106 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night in a battle of division leaders.
Hibbert, who was serving a one-game suspension from the league when the Pacers lost to the Clippers 99-91 at Indianapolis on Feb. 28, made all eight of his shots in the first half and finished 11 for 14 from the field to help his team extend its winning streak to five and increase its Central Division lead to 6 1/2 games over idle Chicago.
All five Pacers starters scored in double figures, with David West getting 16 and backcourt mates Lance Stephenson and George Hill chipping in with 13 apiece.
Jamal Crawford scored 25 points off the bench for the Pacific Division-leading Clippers, whose magic number to clinch the first division title in the franchise’s 43-year history remained at two. They failed on their third attempt at their 50th victory, which would break the franchise record set by the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves. Blake Griffin had 17 points.
Center DeAndre Jordan, whose games this season have fluctuated between dominant and invisible, played 17 scoreless minutes and went to the bench for good with 6:26 left in the third quarter. The Clippers were outscored 42-25 while he was on the floor.
West, playing his third game after missing the previous six with a lower back sprain, capped a 12-2 run on a 16-footer that gave the Pacers their biggest lead, 79-55, with 3:27 left in the third quarter.
The Clippers, playing almost the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter with all of their starters on the bench, narrowed the gap to 89-81 on Eric Bledsoe’s 11-footer with 7:24 to play.
West then tipped the ball away from Crawford near midcourt and got it back from George for a fast-break layup that gave the Pacers a nine-point edge. Chris Paul reported back in with 4:07 remaining and set up Crawford at the right sideline for a 3-pointer that cut the margin to 97-93 with 3:38 left.
Hibbert fouled out for the fifth time this season with 1:35 remaining and the Pacers ahead 99-93. The Clippers briefly seized the moment, as Paul (10 points and eight assists) converted the ensuing free throws and Griffin added a dunk to bring Los Angeles within 99-97 with 1:11 to go. But West canned a fadeaway jumper, and the Pacers clinched it by making all eight free throws in the final 32 seconds.
The Pacers never trailed, opening the game with a 10-0 run and holding a 51-43 lead at halftime. Clippers rugged forward Matt Barnes, who doesn’t need much provocation to get agitated, was called for a flagrant foul 1 when he dragged Stephenson to the floor by the left arm near the Pacers’ basket with 4:27 left in the third quarter and the Clippers in a 73-55 hole.
Los Angeles scored 100 points for the 45th time this season, equaling the most by the club since the 1993-94 squad did it 48 times under coach Bill Fitch. The franchise mark for triple-digit games is 73, set in 1978-79 under coach Gene Shue, when the Clippers played their first season in San Diego after leaving Buffalo. Their highest total in Los Angeles is 65 games, in 1992-93 under Larry Brown.
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