Clippers’ Caron Butler flicks in over-the-head tip to beat the buzzer
By Ben Golliver
The Clippers’ Caron Butler made the Pacers pay for their sloppiness in a most unusual fashion just before halftime of Indiana’s 109-106 road win in the Staples Center on Monday night.
After Tyler Hansbrough committed a careless turnover to give L.A. the ball with 2.6 seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Clippers inbounded the ball to Blake Griffin, who lost his handle as he attempted to set up a stepback jumper in the left corner. Griffin’s eventual shot wound up well short thanks to a contesting effort from Hansbrough, but Butler came across the paint to make an outstanding instinctual play on the dead duck jumper.
Using his right hand, Butler flicked the ball backwards over his head, deflecting it straight into the hoop to cut the Pacers’ halftime lead to 51-43. Replays showed he executed the flick with just a tenth of a second or two remaining on the clock. Just like coach Vinny Del Negro drew it up.
Indiana, the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, improved to 48-27 by hanging on down the stretch to secure its fifth straight win. Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 26 points (on 11-for-14 shooting) and 10 rebounds.
L.A., the Western Conference’s No. 4 seed, dropped to 49-26 with its third straight loss. Jamal Crawford finished with 25 points (on eight-for-19 shooting) and three assists in a losing effort.