NBA: Clippers defeat Pacers amid Griffin punch-up controversy

Chris Paul (right) of the Los Angeles Clippers shooting in the game against the Indiana Pacers. The Clippers won 91-89.
Chris Paul (right) of the Los Angeles Clippers shooting in the game against the Indiana Pacers. The Clippers won 91-89.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

INDIANAPOLIS (Indiana) • The Los Angeles Clippers shrugged off the furore surrounding Blake Griffin's punch-induced hand injury on Tuesday to beat the Indiana Pacers 91-89 in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Guard Chris Paul scored 26 points, including a crucial jumper with just 33.7 seconds left as the Clippers held on in a frantic finale.

The road victory saw the Clippers improve to a 29-16 win-loss record for the season while Indiana fell to 23-22.

They had been plunged into controversy earlier on Tuesday after confirming that Griffin had suffered a broken bone in his hand after throwing a punch at an unidentified person.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers paid tribute to the way his side had reacted to the controversy with victory over Indiana.

"I think all the stuff in the last 48 hours, you always say it's the game that brings your team back," he said. "You could kind of feel that tonight. That was a good win for our team."

CROSSING THE LINE

A situation among friends escalated and I regret the way I handled myself towards someone I care about.

BLAKE GRIFFIN, Clippers forward, who suffered a hand injury when he punched the team's assistant equipment manager.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Griffin had attacked a member of the Clippers' equipment staff during an altercation in Toronto over the weekend.

The incident left him needing surgery to repair a spiral fracture in a metacarpal in his right hand, meaning he faces four to six weeks out. The power forward now faces an internal investigation after the Clippers announced a sternly worded statement about the incident.

"This conduct has no place in our organisation and this incident does not represent who we are as a team," the Clippers said. "We are conducting a full investigation with assistance from the NBA. At the conclusion of the investigation, appropriate action will be taken."

Griffin, who has averaged 23.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists a game this season, has not played since suffering a torn quadriceps tendon in late December. In his absence, the Clippers have gone 12-3.

USA Today identified the target of the assault as Clippers assistant equipment manager Matias Testi.

The five-time All-Star later issued an apology via Twitter.

"A situation among friends escalated and I regret the way I handled myself towards someone I care about," the 26-year-old wrote.

"I want to apologise to the Clippers organisation, my team-mates and the fans for creating a distraction."

It is not the first time he has found himself in hot water over a physical altercation. In 2014, he was accused of slapping a man at a Las Vegas nightclub, but the charges were eventually dropped by Nevada prosecutors.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'Clippers defeat Pacers amid Griffin controversy'. Print Edition | Subscribe