That 24-point deficit began to dwindle and Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the rest of the Clippers' starters sat and watched.

The keyword around the team lately has been intensity, something that's been missing, but they could see it first-hand.

It was the long-lost Clippers bench that was on display, and the reserves nearly saved the day, But in the end, that reserve tank can only drive so far.

The Clippers pulled within a point, then had a shot to tie it at the buzzer but Indiana held on for a 109-106 win Monday at Staples Center.

"We played great in the second half," Paul said. "It was just that we had to play almost perfect in order to win."

Indiana made its final eight free throws to fend off the Clippers, whose valiant effort can't erase the sting of a third consecutive defeat.

"The bench gave us a chance with their energy and effort," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. He knew he couldn't say the same about his starters, who watched the Pacers get off to a 10-0 start and never got caught.

"Our first unit, it was disappointing how we played," Paul said. "We didn't come out and play with any type of intensity, we weren't getting stops and if not for our second unit ... the game would have been over a long time ago and I think that starts with me."