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Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Building an offense in Indiana

By Kevin Arnovitz

David West
Jeff Gross/NBAE/Getty Images
David West knows how to find a mismatch, control a possession and encourage Paul George.

LOS ANGELES -- Things got sticky late for the Indiana Pacers, and there was nothing artful about the conclusion of their 109-106 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. The Pacers let a 24-point third-quarter lead dwindle down to two and their crucial bucket with 49 seconds remaining came on an ugly possession during which the ball never came close to the paint until just before the shot clock buzzer. If not for David West’s step-back jumper over Blake Griffin, the game could’ve been a calamity for Indiana.

But West came through, and the Pacers’ locker room was festive after the game. Certain allowances are afforded to teams that log a 4-0 road trip through the Western conference, even if the landing is bumpy.

The source of the Pacers’ good spirit of late is their invigorated offense. At the outset of the season, scoring was a chore for the Pacers. There’s never been a lack of effort in Indianapolis, but every possession seemed like a grind, and open looks at the basket came hourly, if that.

Since the midpoint of their season on January 21, the Pacers have boasted the 10th most efficient offense in the NBA, a remarkable improvement for a team that ranked 28th on New Year’s Day. During their current five-game winning streak, the Pacers have scored well over 100 points per 100 possessions in each contest, and racked up 109 points against the Clippers in 90 possessions unofficially, good for an eye-popping 121.1 efficiency rating. Indiana’s defense has been the gold standard in the NBA since Day 1, but an offense that can produce at that level should put a scare into any team it confronts in the postseason.

The starting five hasn’t changed, nor has a bench that’s short on offensive punch. So how have the Pacers breathed life into their attack? Five observations from the Pacers' win over the Clippers: