Feb 6, 2014, 3:13 AM EDT
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.
May 5, 2015, 1:22 AM EDT
“There are no excuses, they played better than we did.” —Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale
May 5, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
But the Knicks will have the higher pick.
May 5, 2015, 12:02 AM EDT
That one worked out OK.
May 4, 2015, 11:19 PM EDT
Popovich still hates the rule.
May 4, 2015, 9:43 PM EDT
Derrick Rose’s 25 points led the way for Chicago.
May 4, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT
May 4, 2015, 8:11 PM EDT
Doc Rivers says Paul will not play.
May 4, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
Curry thanked basically everyone. I mean everyone.
May 4, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
Nobody thinks Gasol is leaving Memphis anyway.
May 4, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT
Curry is different from most MVP winners.
May 4, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
This is the battle we’ve been waiting for since training camp.
May 4, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT
Nor should he
May 4, 2015, 3:59 PM EDT
Look for LeBron to try and post Butler up to draw help.
May 4, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Neither of these guys is used to being matched up on a big as athletic as they are.
May 4, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT
Spurs coach echoes Doc Rivers. Can they get the rule changed?
May 4, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT
…after singing Paul’s praises
May 4, 2015, 1:44 PM EDT
What would that rule be?
May 4, 2015, 1:09 PM EDT
Finally! I’d been on the edge of my seat
May 4, 2015, 12:33 PM EDT
Pick and John Wall’s pass led to Otto Porter’s crunch-time layup
May 4, 2015, 11:58 AM EDT
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com casts unintended vote for Russell Westbrook, places Anthony Davis higher than planned
- CP3 who? Clippers come from behind to take Game 1 from Rockets on road. 0
- Bulls ride hot start, strong shooting night to Game 1 win in Cleveland 18
- Chris Paul out for Game 1 of Clippers-Rockets series 1
- PBT Extra: Stephen Curry is the MVP for a modern NBA 13
- PBT Second-Round Playoff Previews: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls 6
- PBT Extra: Can Jimmy Butler have success slowing LeBron James? 3
- PBT Extra: Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan matchup key part of Clippers vs. Rockets 2
- Stephen Curry wins MVP with 100 of 130 first-place votes, but James Harden closest second place in four years 22