Clippers-Pacers recap: Indiana takes over second in East with 109-106 win

USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers made a game out of it, but they couldn't finish the comeback Monday.

The Indiana Pacers' hot streak extended through Monday, as they toppled the Los Angeles Clippers 109-106 at the Staples Center.

A late-season surge continued for the Pacers, who moved past the idle New York Knicks (who have won their last eight games) into second place in the Eastern Conference. Indiana has won eight of its last nine contests. By now, the Pacers shouldn't be worrying much about the Central Division title. They're up 6 1/2 games in those standings over the Chicago Bulls with seven games to go.

Meanwhile, the Clippers seem to be trending in a direction opposite Indiana. Los Angeles has lost four of its last five and is now 7-8 since March 1. The Clippers' final seven games include five opponents with sub-.500 records, providing them a chance to collect some wins before the postseason in a way they haven't over the past month.

Indiana's lead swelled as large as 24 points at 80-56 with 3:26 left to play in the third quarter, capping a run of 10 unanswered points scored over a 2 1/2-minute span.

Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 26 points and 10 rebounds, but he fouled out with 1:35 to play. At that point the Clippers' comeback effort was within six points. A pair of Chris Paul free throws and a Blake Griffin dunk put the Clippers within one possession for the first time since the score was 39-36 with 6:50 left in the second quarter. But the Clippers never took the lead, thanks mostly to the Pacers' free-throw shooting. Indiana was 8-of-8 from the line in the final 31.9 seconds to seal the win.

Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 25 points. He made a free throw with 9.2 seconds left and missed the second intentionally. Chris Paul missed three-point attempt that would have tied the game, but Matt Barnes tipped it in. Paul George hit two free throws for the Pacers to set the final score.

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