12:30 PM ET, November 27, 2005
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
After being held to five points through the first three quarters, Croshere scored 12 in the fourth and grabbed a critical offensive rebound in the final seconds to help the Pacers hold off a late rally by the Clippers for a 97-92 victory on Sunday.
"We couldn't have won this game without the total team effort," teammate Jermaine O'Neal said. "Austin was the catalyst, getting in there and hitting those big 3-point shots. There were multiple plays he made in the fourth quarter, and that's what makes us a talented team."
Ron Artest scored 22 points and O'Neal added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Pacers, who handed the Clippers their first home loss in six tries and prevented them from setting a franchise record for the most wins at home from the start of a season. Stephen Jackson scored 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting after going 4-for-15 on Friday's 97-95 loss to Atlanta.
Elton Brand had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season after a franchise-best 9-2 start.
"They put up 84 shots to our 70 shots, and you can't win like that," shooting guard Cuttino Mobley said. "They got a little physical with us, and it showed. You're not going to get the looks you might normally get when you're playing Indiana."
Chris Kaman finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but the Clippers still managed to squander nine-point leads twice.
"We've got a lot of guys who play to win," Artest said. "We were down, but we didn't give up. We started out slow, but we played hard, took care of the ball and came out ahead."
Artest, who missed Friday's 87-85 loss to Atlanta because of a bruised right wrist he injured on a hard foul by Cleveland's LeBron James on Thursday, shot 8-for-19 from the field. The eight-year veteran, who was named the NBA's defensive player of the year two seasons ago, is averaging 21.2 points.
"Ron plays such good defense that people forget about his offense," O'Neal said. "He posts up, he hits from outside, and he's one of the better scorers in this league. So people should recognize that. We don't just say, `Ron, go out and defend guys.' Ron is a very capable scorer from all over the court."
Croshere and Artest hit 3-pointers 34 seconds apart in the fourth quarter and Croshere added another 3 with 7:07 left to extend Indiana's lead to 88-78, the first double-digit margin for either team.
"They like to double, especially in the low post. So what coach Carlisle did was put me and Ron into screen-and-rolls with their guards, and I think that's what broke their backs late in the game -- along with Croshere's threes," O'Neal said. "And if you're going to tilt on us coming off the screen-and-rolls, then who's going to guard Austin?"
The Clippers went on a 10-2 run capped by Mobley's 11-foot jumper and narrowed the gap to 92-90 with 1:07 to play. But Jamaal Tinsley hit two free throws at the other end, and Croshere grabbed an offensive rebound of Tinsley's missed jumper on the Pacers' next possession. He was fouled and converted both free throws for a 96-92 lead with 4.2 seconds to go.
O'Neal was only 1-for-7 from the field in the first half, but the rest of the team picked up the slack offensively while he concentrated on other aspects of his game.
"That's a good sign of the character of our team," O'Neal said. "I said, OK, it's not going well for me offensively, so I've got to block some shots, play tough defense and rebound the basketball. That was my niche today. Austin, Ron, Jason and Jamaal carried us offensively."
Pacers broadcaster Al Albert and brother Marv both worked the NBA doubleheader at Staples Center. Marv did TV play-by-play of the Nets-Lakers game for the YES Network in New York. ... Clippers C Zeljko Rebraca sat out his second straight game after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat at the end of Wednesday's victory over Toronto. He missed 50 games with an irregular heartbeat during the 2002-03 season at Detroit. ... The Pacers began their five-game road trip, their longest of the season, without C Scot Pollard, who was recovering from a case of food poisoning.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||34-84 (.405)||32-70 (.457)|
|3PM-3PA||8-20 (.400)||3-7 (.429)|
|FTM-FTA||21-28 (.750)||25-27 (.926)|
|Fast Break Points||2||4|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||22 (1/0)||22 (2/0)|