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Heat start hot then hang on to beat Clippers

Feb 6, 2014, 3:13 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Clippers Getty Images

This was a nationally televised against a top-four team in the West in the Clippers — these are the kind of games that shake the Heat out of their mid-season malaise.

And when the Heat play like they did early Wednesday night it is a beautiful thing.

Miami’s first quarter was as good as they have played all season — they pushed the pace, had fantastic ball movement that picked apart the Clippers defense, and started the game shooting 14-17 from field. LeBron James had five first quarter assists, Dwyane Wade had four, the Heat were getting points in the paint and knocking down jumpers. Miami was up 12 in the first quarter, by 19 at points in the second.

That proved to be enough, despite the ball movement fading away late. The Clippers mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback behind Blake Griffin and his 43 points on the night — Los Angeles whittled the lead down to two. Then it was a familiar story: Ray Allen drains a corner three and that proves to be the big play, the dagger.

Miami hung on to win 116-112 Wednesday night in Los Angeles in one of the more entertaining games of the season.

LeBron finished with 31 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, leading six Heat players in double figures on the night. Miami played its game much of the night, sharing the ball, and they were out and running on the 20 Clipper turnovers. Live ball turnovers against the Heat become easy buckets and impressive dunks going the other way, and the Clippers did that too often. Of course, Los Angeles had plenty of dunks of its own — this team still puts on a show.

The Clippers want to be elite but once again inconsistent defense did them in — they allowed an offensive rating of 119 (points per 100 possessions) and they let the Heat shoot 52 percent on the night. As a team the Clippers have matured on that end, yet the trust on defense is not consistently where it needs to be, something Doc Rivers has admitted.

The Clippers stayed within striking distance because of a two-man show — Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin either scored or assisted on 53 of the Clippers 55 first half points.

Still the Heat maintained a double-digit lead through the bulk of the third quarter and looked like they might coast in for the win. It wasn’t to be. The Clippers put together a 10-0 run in the fourth (Crawford was a big part of that, he finished with 31 points of the night).

As the score got tight the Heat’s ball movement died as well. Yet the Heat were still getting good looks with LeBron attacking — Miami started having the point guard come set the screen to force the Darren Collison to hedge out and LeBron exploited that badly (that is where the return of Chris Paul will change things).

The Clippers kept coming. Inside of a minute left in the game the Clippers got the Heat lead down to two points. Miami had the ball and good 20 seconds of a strong possession, but when Wade drove the lane Crawford watched the ball and lost sight of his man in the corner. His man was Ray Allen. You don’t want to lose Ray Allen, and he promptly buried a three that ended up being the dagger.

Don’t read too much into a February game where both teams were battling injuries (none as serious as CP3 being out), but it’s a good thing to see the Clippers show some fight like that — they may have grown with while their best player has been sidelined. That could benefit them once the playoffs start.

What this game can do is remind us just how good the Heat can be when they are on — and that this season they don’t hold that focus quite as long it seems.

  1. antistratfordian - Feb 6, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    Good road win for Miami against a very good home team. This is the 14th time LeBron has registered 31 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds in a game (regular season and playoffs). Only Magic Johnson has done that more since 1985-86 (18x).

    More fascinating than that is Blake Griffin’s 43/15/6. According to Basketball-Reference.com Griffin is the only player since 1985-86 to post 43/15/6 in any game more than once.

  2. abchome - Feb 6, 2014 at 3:54 AM

    A very exciting game. Griffin was playing great but the turnovers, many unforced, really kill the Clippers.

  3. davecotuit - Feb 6, 2014 at 6:29 AM

    once again my beloved Clips go down in flames, this time back to back coming off the horrible loss in Denver on Monday by one point on Randy Foye s 3 pointer at the buzzer. The Raptors are going to be really tough on Friday even with CP3 back on the floor. that would be three straight losses and four out of the last five. ouch!

    • Wammy Giveaway - Feb 6, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      The Clippers have yet to lose three in a row at all this season. In the 2011-12 lockout season, the Clippers lost to, in order, a title contender (Thunder), a playoff contender (Pacers), and a lottery team (Hornets/Pelicans). The three-game losing streak, coupled with a flagrant foul on Jason Smith to Blake Griffin, and was what got Vinny Del Negro on the hot seat. If the Clippers lose to the Raptors this week, the panic button will be pressed. No, Doc Rivers won’t be fired, but with Jared Dudley on the trading block, don’t be surprised to see the Clippers trading a quarter of their roster in order to finally get that true defensive backup big man the team most desperately needs to make the Western Conference Finals.

  4. 1972wasalongtimeago - Feb 6, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    The times of these west coast games kill me.

    Seemed like the Clips had 20 more off rebounds that us (yes, US. Deal with it). 20 more 2nd chance points. 20 more free throw attempts. Seemed line Ake had about 50 points. Jamal Crawford, once again showed why he isvthe founding member of the “Jamal Crawford Heat Killer All-Stars”.

    And yet the Heat still won. Lovevthiscteam. LeBron is so good it’s just beyond words. And when Ray hit that corner dagger at the end? Well, that was just sooooo sweet right Doc?

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:53 AM

      “The times of these west coast games kill me.”

      Oh, I’m sorry. Considering most teams in all sports are on the East Coast, and most games start at East Coast times, it’s too bad you have to be inconvenienced once every few weeks.

  5. fireaziam - Feb 6, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    The Heat looked really good, and the Clippers looked like contenders. The technical foul on LeBron was ridiculous, and the refs ego should not be allowed to possibly dictate the outcome of a game. The ref is now a psychologist, determining body language and not verbiage; give me a break. The refs have become victims of their own perceived celebrity; still as despised as ever.

  6. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Feb 6, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    great game minus the no defense part lol..seriously im glad my staying up wasnt in vain..thanks for another heat victory fellas

  7. RavenzGunnerz - Feb 6, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    All those of you who thought removing hand check in basketball was a bad idea… was this game a bad idea? I think not. This was very entertaining. I like where we are heading…

  8. ufools - Feb 6, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    It’s cool Clips, 40% of your starters were out injured. Hopefully we see them in a series later!!

  9. indrathegod - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Another good TEAM Heat win. The TO’s killed the Clippers, as they pounded us on the glass. Lebron shows for the millionth time why he’s the best player in the world. Sorry KD. Still second best.

    I will say Blake is coming into his own. I’m interested to see if he still produces at the same level once CP gets back…

  10. doc305 - Feb 6, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    great game by the players. awful game by the officials. it went both ways. but that 5th foul they called on bosh was nuts. Griffin had a handful of Bosh’s jersey and some how got the call.
    I think Oden could have helped Miami in the rebounding department, no team, not even the Heat can win consistently with such poor rebounding, it seriously looked like Griffin and Jordan were 8 feet tall, those offensive rebounds just looked way too easy! Fun game to watch either way, if LAC didn’t have such a tough mountain to climb in the west they could go far in the playoffs…

  11. dannymac17 - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    Very entertaining game all around. When the Clippers were down by as many as 18 i thought the game was over.

    They came storming back. Griffin had an A+ game and I thought he out played LeBron.

  12. reastnt - Feb 6, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    I was at the game, and it felt like the Clippers just needed a few more minutes to complete the comeback. Despite the terrible first quarter defense and too many turnovers and missing both starting guards and Collison playing poorly, it ended up being an almost-winnable game. I know moral victories still count as losses… but I’m looking forward to a healthy Clippers backcourt.

    And Griffin and James are worth the price of admission.

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