Another West Coast game going to overtime, and the Miami Heat lost again. This time the Los Angeles Clippers, with Chris Paul leading the charge (27 points, 11 assists) as Dwyane Wade lost his second straight game since returning from injury while the entire team struggled with scoring.
The Miami Heat are 8-3, with all three losses coming in these back to back segments. Concern? Spoelstra’s usage of only 3 bench players, Battier, Cole and Haslem. The Big three and Mario Chalmers played over 40 minutes on another overtime night, and although the Heat aren’t exactly an old team, managing their resourced might be a little bit wiser.
For the Clippers, it wasn’t just three players each scoring over 20 points. Blake Griffin with 20 points and 12 boards, Caron Butler adding 20 himself. He also hit the first shot of overtime, as the Clips ran away with the final 5 minutes 9-3. It was the defense, and limiting the Miami Heat to 39.5% from the field. The Big three combined for 19-49 from the field, and Miami can’t win like that. Both Wade and Bosh getting stuck on 16 is another way to look at it.
There were also the bad calls, specifically DeAndre Jordan not getting called for goaltending that infuriated Spoelstra, getting ejected shortly afterwards. But it was mostly terrible shooting. The Heat didn’t get a field goal for the last 7:31 of the fourth quarter. They only made 1-10 in overtime. Finding ways to score seemed a bit too much for a tired team.
Free throws weren’t exactly forthcoming as well. The Heat made a terrible 20-34 from the line, as they struggled with that aspect in the Finals as well. James, who got 17 times to the line, made only nine shots. He is looking more aggressive this season, doing a lot better in the low post and in the paint. That needs to translate into more points from the line, although James has been shooting a respectable 75% this season.
I put a lot of the free throws on me. It’s kind of a rhythm. I need to concentrate a little more at the free-throw line and knock them down and we’ll be fine.
Blake Griffin has to be frustrated, despite the win. He scored just four points in the second half, unable to create anything for himself but jump shots, which aren’t his best suit. Chris Paul is running this team, but Griffin, in order to be an elite player, has got to be more than a guy who relies on his point guards to set him up in the paint.
Either way, with good and bad, the Lakers are up next, with Kobe Bryant not exactly listening to the warnings about him taking too many shots. The Clippers need to take their defensive effort and enthusiasm with them. It’s just another win. We can’t hang our hat on that. It’s about winning these games and winning the so-called smaller games because that’s what puts your franchise in a winning position. ( Blake Griffin)