Someone was going to come off the court disappointed from the dunkathon between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers. Not surprisingly, the side with LeBron James playing for it was wearing all smiles at the end of the game, as the defending NBA champions lasted in the end to come away with the 116-112 win.
Blake Griffin put on quite a lobbing performance, scoring 43 points on 16-of-34 from the field, but coming back from behind and chasing the Heat all game long after an incredible first quarter from them was a bit too much for the Clippers, missing too many key players at the moment. On the other end, LeBron James was once again on top of everything in a game that showed the Miami Heat still capable of running for a whole night without too much resting moments in between. James had 31 points, 8 rebounds, 12 assists and also 7 turnovers, this time feeling less worried about the missed triple double.
The Heat led by 12 points at the end of the first quarter, scoring 36 points off of 15 assists. The game went back and forth all night which eventually seemed to do well with Miami not just because of Wade and James who are impossible to contain in the open court, but also their 3-point shooting (41.9%) in comparison to the Clippers, who were playing without J.J. Redick and had to settle for a misfiring Jared Dudley, leading to only 28% from beyond the arc, while missing 11 free throw shots didn’t help as well.
The Heat have had bad defensive performances this season and games in which the lead simply slipped away from them after impressive starts. This time they held on in the end, whether it was Ray Allen making a four-point play en route to 15 points, LeBron James hitting a big three in the final minutes with the Heat leading by only 2 or Ray Allen knocking down one from the corner with 42 seconds left to once again put the Heat up by five and end the Clippers’ chances of coming back.
That’s when the talent kicks in. The play was broken down a little bit, but D-Wade made a heck of a play by getting into the paint, and Ray just kept moving into his favorite spot — one of those corners. D-Wade found him with a great pass, and Ray nailed it. I think it was just our mental toughness, especially in the third quarter when they made their run. We just stayed composed and found a way to get a win. We made stops and executed offensively.
We pride ourselves on moving the ball, and we know that makes it easier for all of us. We keep everyone in a rhythm when we’re passing the ball and sharing the ball. Tonight we had some turnovers, including myself. I mean, I was the main culprit, and I’ve got to be more conscious of that and not turn the ball over so much.
The Heat have enjoyed the easiest schedule in the NBA up to this point, with opponents that have posted a combined .459 win percentage. However, in the remainder of the season they’re playing the second toughest schedule among Eastern conference teams, as they improved to 8-2 this season when playing against division leaders.