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LeBron finally aggressive late, but Clippers hand Heat another loss

Jan 12, 2012, 3:19 AM EDT

Chris Paul, Chris Bosh AP

Last year’s “it” team faced off against this year’s “it” squad and fans from both sides got what they wanted. Sort of. They both got a wildly entertaining contest that had the intensity of May. But it came wrapped in a game where it looked like both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back just a few weeks into the season.

Fans also got answers, just not all the answers they wanted.

Clippers fans wanted a signature win to show that their team is a legitimate contender. Clearly coach Vinny Del Negro wanted it too as he tightened up his rotations like this was a playoff game. They got a win — 95-89 in overtime — but in a sloppy way where they showed both their potential and how far they have to got to go.

Heat fans wanted LeBron James to take charge and be aggressive at the end of a close game. They got it, LeBron forced his game and tried to take over — the result was he was 1-of-6 from the floor in the fourth quarter and overtime, and probably more costly he was 6-10 from the free throw line in that time (9-17 overall). Aggressive did not equal effective.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was okay with that.

“I was encouraged that we were able to get to the rim, particularly there late,” he said post game. “We were able to get to the rim in different ways and not settle for jump shots (as they had the night before in an overtime loss to Golden State).”

He’s right, if the LeBron and the Heat keep being aggressive the shots will fall. Eventually.

It’s the second night in a row that the Heat found themselves on the road in a playoff atmosphere against motivated opponents and they couldn’t pull off the win. Don’t read too much into it, yet. It’s January, there is plenty of time for the Heat to learn. But at the end of games opponents are able to take the Heat out of their new up-tempo, aggressive offense (Golden State did the same thing Tuesday night) and Miami has to find a way to play their game for 48 minutes.

Down the stretch both teams played good defense and not very impressive offense — Miami shot 33 percent in the fourth quarter, the Clippers 29 percent. Miami had their chances if they could have just sank free throws, but they couldn’t.

Good defense is a key for the Clippers if they are going to be a playoff threat.

“(D’Andre Jordan) and Reggie (Evans) really set the tone on the defensive end,” Chris Paul said. “When Reggie came in the game and guys see how hard he is playing it becomes contagious. You have no choice but to play hard when you see Reggie diving all over the court.”

So, are the Clippers contenders? You watch the masterful game Paul played — 27 points and 11 assists, almost single-handedly carrying the Clippers at points — and you think they can be. You see the athleticism of Blake Griffin (20 points) and guys like Caron Butler step up (20) and you think maybe. But you see the hot-and-cold defense, the sloppy play and their half court execution and you have questions.

“Yeah, they’re a good team, they are a really good team,” Chris Bosh said after the game. “They are going to have some battles, and adversity is going to come. We’ll see how they handle it and just keep on playing.”

Fans got their money’s worth — this game was close almost the entire way and there were no shortage of highlight plays, including a Jordan dunk to seal the Clipper win that should by itself get him into the dunk contest. There were guys attacking hard on both sides all night long, punishing the rims.

Clippers fans left happy. Heat fans left frustrated and with questions. Both sides may feel differently in the playoffs, but that is a long way off. For now, everyone should enjoy what was one fun basketball game. Just ignore the sloppiness.

  1. liltmac2003 - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:13 AM

    As you stated, LeBron was 1-6 in the 4th quarter and OT combined.

    That’s aggressive? When you are the supposed leader of your team, going 1-3 in the 4th quarter and 0-3 in OT is aggressive?

    I understand he clearly wasn’t effective nor clutch, but I doubt he was aggressive either.

    Kobe Bryant went 3-12 for the Lakers in the 4th and OT.

    John Lucas II, 3rd string PG for Chicago, went 3-6 in the 4th quarter in the Bulls-Wizards game.

    • trueballs - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      Listen…he’s got work to do. It’s all mental with him. But getting to the line 10 times in the fourth quarter is being aggressive.

    • stadix093 - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      I would say aggressive is the term that makes sense. He actually did attack the rim and get himself to the line. He usually defers or tosses up long jumpers late. Aggressive yes, effective hell no. Another day of Bron being Bron and heat fans making excuses. I was at the game and I can tell you it was funny to watch everyone in a Miami jersey go from obnoxious to dead quiet, just like their favorite player Lebron.

  2. denverdude7 - Jan 12, 2012 at 5:14 AM

    Same old Bron-Bron. 4th quarter comes along and Bron-Bron’s collat tightens up. The heat will have a great regular season record then choke at some point in the playoffs.

    YAWN….

  3. DonRSD - Jan 12, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    Just give Wade the ball at the end of the games.
    Last 5 minutes = LeBron shouldn’t touch it.
    Practice can’t simulate the nervousness this guy LeBron has at the end of games.
    Spo needs to put his foot down and not let the media hyped machine that is LeBron tell him otherwise.

    • trueballs - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      Wade missed plenty as well.

    • delius1967 - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      Giving Wade the ball is a much better option for the Heat. Not only is he a better crunch-time player, he gets more mystifyingly phantom foul calls than any player I’ve seen since Jordan. There was a foul called in the fourth quarter where the defender visibly backed away from Wade as he drove to the basket, and the whistle blew anyway — but only after Wade’s layup rolled out. Way, WAY after.

      I don’t know what it is about Wade but the refs love him. I don’t say that with any rancor; he’s actually the Heat player I have the most respect for. But wow, he gets a LOT LOT of calls.

  4. pl4tinum514 - Jan 12, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    Delicious. More please.

  5. dirtybird2020 - Jan 12, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    His disappearing act is classic! This is how im gonna remember lebron!! They shouldve kept beasley for the 4th quarter haha, or atleast put battie in and sit the nba’s houdini! Lbj hater fir life

  6. narrabeen23 - Jan 12, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I think I’ve figured it out. LeBron has always been the most physically talented player on any court, so he’s never felt the need to fight or tear someones heart out in order to prove a point. He thinks his greatness is self-evident. Therefore, whenever he fails, it’s def not cuz Lebron isn’t good enough, it must’ve just been a fluke.

    Champions are never content, and Lebron will either have to get over himself, or ride Wade’s coattails to get that ring

    • southbeachtalent - Jan 12, 2012 at 9:38 AM

      Turn-overs and missed free throws… This loss means nothing.

      • narrabeen23 - Jan 12, 2012 at 9:49 AM

        It appears that whenever adversity hits, the Heat throw their hands up instead of putting their heads down.

        The tendencies you develop in the regular season follow you into the playoffs.If Spoelstra doesn’t take this loss as an opportunity to teach and galvanize and continues to just think these losses are fluky, this team will develop a losing mentality.

  7. xliontamer - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Since every comment is about LeBron/The Heat, I feel compelled to point out that the Clippers played great defense to get this win. Do they need to get better? Of course, but this was only their 8tth game together (or less if you count Evans), the second night of a back-to-back (which they lost on the road) and they came out and got the job done against a team that should make the finals again.

    This game is going to have meaning for the Clippers – not as a moral victory but a real one. This game will make the next one against the Lakers even more intense. Even with its detractors, it showed them and the league what could be.

  8. tampajoey - Jan 12, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Has Lebron James ever commented a foul that he didn’t whine about like a little girl?

    I wish the Vanishing King would grow that neck beard over his face so we don’t have to see his whiny look as he’s complaining to the ref.

  9. berbes - Jan 12, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    i would refer to the clipper’s defense as aggressive rather than the usual object of mr. helin’s affection. geez, get a room already.

  10. soxpatsbscelts - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Lebron wilts and everybody knows it. The next Jordan right? I think not.

    • trueballs - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:10 PM

      Okay. Jordan’s the GOAT. We know this. It’s not going to change for a long time.

      But that doesn’t mean that every player needs to play just like Jordan to be ONE of the greatest. Just ask Bird/Magic/Kareem. Why does everybody have to focus on the things people can’t do? Kobe can’t win a championship without a dominant big man and a $90mil roster. LBJ needs mental toughness….and isn’t comfortable closing out games. We know this…he knows this.

      Just appreciate what he can do. He’s arguably the best one-on-one defender in the league, he shut down an MVP point guard in the ECF, he’s one of the best point guards/facilitators in the game, and scoring seems to be his biggest weakness although he’s broken many “youngest ever” scoring records, and has done so very efficiently.

      Kobe’s amazing. He’s clutch. But how does the “greatest scorer” or even GOAT (some people claim) have a lower career scoring average than LBJ. And yes…statistics only tell half the story…but that’s why Kobe’s not even close to Jordan.

      • southbeachtalent - Jan 12, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        trueballs,

        When the Heat win it’s YAWN…

        When the Heat Lose, THE SKY IS FALLING!!!!

        Get used to it..

  11. silk32 - Jan 12, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    The Clippers and Coach Vinnie Del Negro employed the “Lebron Rules” to upend the Heat >> http://clicky.me/TheLebronRules

  12. lakerluver - Jan 12, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    He ain’t no BLACK MAMBA!! To all you “Heatles” fans, I have one question and please answer it honestly. If Miami could trade LeBron straight up for D. Howard would you like that? Howard, Wade, and Bosh is practically guaranteed to win TITLES. Wade, James, and Bosh……….not so sure they can beat Chicago this year. D. Rose is on a mission and Rip just might be the missing piece of the puzzle. What do you think?

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