INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—All the injuries and Ron Artest’s benching finally caught up with Indiana, in historic fashion.
Elton Brand had 19 points and 16 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers took control of the lethargic Pacers from the start in a 102-68 victory Wednesday night, the worst home loss in franchise history.
The Clippers outscored the Pacers 31-7 in the second quarter, holding Indiana (4-1) to a franchise-low for points in a quarter.
Artest was serving the second of a two-game benching imposed by coach Rick Carlisle because he “compromised the integrity of the team.”
The volatile forward said Wednesday that he asked Carlisle for time off because of a busy schedule that included promoting a soon-to-be released rap album.
“I was doing a lot,” Artest said. “I was running around a lot and doing a whole bunch of stuff and I’ve also been working out, so I think I wore myself down physically, I wore myself down mentally. I was ready to take some time off, at least like a month off, but two games is enough.”
When asked if Artest would return for Friday night’s game at Philadelphia as originally planned, Carlisle said, “We’ll see. We’ll see. It’s not something I’m going to talk about right now.”
The Pacers sure could have used their All-Star and last year’s defensive player of the year against the Clippers.
Artest’s benching left Indiana with only nine players available to play. Center Scot Pollard missed the game with a sore lower back and Jonathan Bender, who was expected to return after missing the previous three games with a sore knee, stayed home with a viral infection.
“We’ve certainly got to get some bodies healthy,” Carlisle said. “We certainly didn’t play with the kind of energy we have been playing with. It’s a bad hit. It’s embarrassing.”
Even with all the personnel problems, Indiana managed a perfect start to the season thanks to crisp ball movement and strong defense.
Neither were on display against the Clippers, who got open jumpers and layups at will and dominated throughout.
A night after out-hustling and out-rebounding the Minnesota Timberwolves in a spirited road win, the Pacers didn’t have enough left.
“Once they got on top of us, they didn’t let up,” said Stephen Jackson, who led the Pacers with 17 points.
The Pacers managed just two field goals in the quarter and were booed by the home crowd as they headed into the locker room down 28 points at halftime.
The Pacers shot 12.5 percent in the second quarter and 26 percent for the half. They weren’t much better at the free throw line, going 6-of-13.
Moore said it was a statement game for the Clippers.
“Yes, to our fans and the other nonbelievers,” said Moore, who finished with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds. “I’m not saying we’re unstoppable because they came out short-handed tonight. We come out and play hard every night. Everybody on this team has a lot to prove.”
The Clippers made their first 18 free throws and were 24-for-26 from the line for the game. They also shot 49 percent from the field and held a 49-32 rebounding advantage after losing to Detroit in double overtime on Monday.
“This is a real big win. To bounce back from losing in double overtime like that to the champs,” Moore said.
They snapped a six-game losing streak to the Pacers, won for the first time at Conseco Fieldhouse and for the first time in Indiana since 1992.
Sure they had a little bit of luck in facing a depleted Indiana team, but they’ll take it.
“It’s a great win for us, even though they were short-handed,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “At the end of the year, they usually don’t go back and ask you about it. We took advantage of the opportunity.”
Bobby Simmons added 18 points and six assists for the Clippers.
Jamaal Tinsley added 15 points and eight assists for the Pacers, whose injury woes continued.
Jermaine O’Neal did not play the fourth quarter after straining his left foot, which has bothered him all season. He is listed as day-to-day.
But the Pacers aren’t making any excuses.
“We haven’t had those guys the first four games and it didn’t make a difference,” Fred Jones said. “We just didn’t perform like we’re supposed to do.”
Pollard and Bender are both expected back for Friday’s game at Philadelphia. … Simmons received a flagrant foul for hitting Jones on the head on a dunk attempt in the third quarter. … O’Neal received a technical foul at 4:21 of the second quarter for arguing with the officials.