Heat defense leads the way to convincing win over Clippers

Watch out Blake...there's a backboard there.

One thing that was apparent as this game got underway what that the Heat were not going to be giving up 44 points, or anything remotely close to that, in the 1st quarter.  The hustle they showed on D wasn't something I was used to seeing this early in the game, but that's motivation for ya.  Both inside and out their defense was solid, and their closing speed was on point. 

Offensively things weren't nearly as smooth, but as long as the defense was playing well then you know things would turn around on the other side of the floor.  The Heat were still able to take a slim 1-point lead into the 2nd quarter, thanks to holding L.A. to just 19 points on 31% shooting.  Miami didn't fare a whole lot better on offense, going about 4 minutes without a point between the 1st and 2nd.

The Heat then opened up with a 10-2 run, holding the Clippers to 1-of-6 from the field and forcing 3 turnovers in the first 4 minutes of the quarter.  Miami's D held strong throughout the half, not allowing L.A. to reach any sort of comfort level.  Just as they did after the 1st quarter, the Clippers went into the break hitting just 31% of their shots. 

They may have dropped a 44-point quarter on the Heat in their last meeting, but this time around Miami held them to 36 points...in the first half.  Blake Griffin was being held in check, though he did have a couple moments where the crowd was ooh-ing and aah-ing.  Mid-way through the 3rd quarter he was left all alone under the basket and pleased the fans with a massive windmill dunk.  Scoring-wise, he led the Clippers with 15 through 3 quarters.

Eddie House kicked off the final quarter with a pair of long jumpers, but that was nothing compared to the impact he'd have on the game just a few short minutes later.  Following a missed triple from James Jones, Baron Davis grabbed the rebound and found Blake Griffin, who had hustled down the court and was all alone at the basket.   

Just as the ball arrived, Eddie House gave Griffin a forearm to the back and sent him flying into the padding under the rim.  Baron Davis came flying down the court and got right in House's face, even giving him a shove despite House just backing off and trying to calm things down.  Nothing really happened after that, mainly because the only person who was looking to stir things up was Davis.

The end result was a Flagrant 1 on House and double technicals for House and Davis.  I didn't think House should have gotten a technical because he did absolutely nothing after fouling Griffin, other then walking away and trying to calm things down.  Erik Spoelstra must have agreed with me because he was then given a technical foul following the announcement of all the fouls.

All that mess didn't do anything to help the cause of the Clippers.  They scored 4 points thanks to the foul shots and possession, but still found themselves down by 12.  Miami then went on a 12-0 run that included a pair of triples from Eddie House, who was having an awesome 4th quarter.  That would pretty much be it for this one.  Los Angeles finished out the game like a team that was anxious for it to be over.  They got a couple garbage minute buckets but still only managed 79 total points, losing by 18 to the Heat. 

If you want to call this game a ‘payback game', that's exactly what Miami did to the Clips at the AAA this afternoon.  Right from the opening tip you could tell that the Heat was focused on defensively shutting L.A. down, and they absolutely succeeded as far as I'm concerned.   I was a little surprised to see the arena so packed for a noon game on Super Bowl Sunday, but over 19,700 Heat fans were loud and involved throughout.

Chants of ‘M-V-P' rained down on Dwyane Wade has he took foul shots in the 4th quarter, and during the whole skirmish scene with Eddie House and Baron Davis the fans quickly started an ‘Ed-die Ed-die' chant.  I realize that it was Burnie's birthday today so it may have been a bit of a younger crowd then usual, but still gotta give props to the Heat fans for always showing up and being loud as hell. 

GAME NOTES

  • After shooting 50% in the first meeting between the teams, Miami held the Clippers to just 32.5%           today.
  • It was a very sloppy game for L.A.  They turned the ball over 19 times, and a number of them were of the unforced variety; traveling calls and either dribbling the ball or stepping out of bounds.
  • When these teams last met it took the Clippers 12 minutes to score 44-points.  This time things were a little different, as 28 minutes went by before the Clips hit 44. 
  • It was almost another triple double game for D-Wade.  He finished with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.  He hit 3-of-4 from downtown and also picked up 3 steals. 
  • Eddie House was 1-for-4 from the field and 0-for-3 from beyond heading into the 4th quarter.  In the final 12 minutes House made 5-of-7, including a three 3-pointers. 
  • As a whole, Miami's bench has really been coming alive of late.  They're averaging 31.0 points in the Heat's last 4 games, scoring over 30 in three of the four. 
  • James Jones played only 16 minutes but still hit a pair of triples and grabbed 7 rebounds. 

That makes 6 straight wins for healing Heat.  Their next game is Tuesday against the Indiana Pacers, which will be Miami's last home game until the 22nd.

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