Culture of Hoops

Los Angeles Clippers fall to Miami Heat

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

In arguably the most athletic game of the season, the Miami Heat swept a season series from the Los Angeles Clippers for the first time in 10 years, in addition to finally grabbing a win in Staples Center after five tries—their first since December 9, 2007. The Clippers had not lost to the Heat at home ever in the LeBron James era.

With guard Chris Paul still out (but set to return Friday) and J.J. Redick listed as out due to a hip injury sustained in shootaround, the Clippers welcomed the Heat, who have been all but forgotten this season with on-court play that would mirror the “sleeping dogs” adage while going 8-2 in their last 10 games. Going into Wednesday night’s contest, the Heat had only won seven of 19 games in which the opposition scored at least 100 points, while the Clippers were set to take the floor as the league’s highest scoring team.

With Paul and Redick out, the Clippers were in need of another player to step up, and there were no Clippers ready to answer the call off the bench, as guard Willie Green and small forward Jared Dudley combined for five points in 29 minutes of action. Sasha Vujacic saw his first action as a Clipper, but had no effect on the game, as he barely saw two minutes of play.

The Clippers owned as much as a 19-point disadvantage, but began to close the gap near halftime, led by Griffin’s 22 points and Jamal Crawford’s 18—including a buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of the second quarter. The Heat led 62-55, with Miami shooting 57 percent.

The Heat opened up the third quarter with an 11-5 run to extend their seven-point lead. With the Clippers constantly turning the ball over, all Heat starters would be in double-figure scoring by the close of the quarter. The Clippers had 20 turnovers total, but were quick to get back on defense as the Heat only put up 13 fast-break points.

With the Clippers drawing closer in the fourth quarter, they finally narrowed the gap to two points before Ray Allen converted a four-point play with eight minutes remaining, increasing the Heat lead to five. Although the Clippers swapped buckets for the remaining six minutes, they would never get closer than four points. Familiar with Ray Allen’s shooting prowess from their Boston Celtics days, Doc Rivers commented on his late-game three-ball heroism: “When he caught it, I knew nothing good was about to happen.”

King James would take matters into his own hands to score 10 points in the remaining five minutes of the night, as the Heat would go on to win 116-112, led by James’ 31 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds—although the Clippers out-rebounded the Heat 52 to 31. Blake Griffin tallied a team-high 43 points and 15 rebounds, continuing his impressive play. Crawford followed with 31 points, and center DeAndre Jordan gave an impressive effort with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Next for the Clippers is a home game against the Toronto Raptors. In their last meeting, the Clippers won 126-118 despite a 51-point effort from Raptors guard Terrence Ross.

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