After shellacking the Clippers Thursday, the Miami Heat looked like a sluggish team on the second night of a back-to-back Sunday morning. The Heat constantly clanked the rims while allowing the Clippers to dominate the paint, losing to Los Angeles 99-89 to fall to 1-2 in preseason ball. Chris Paul returned to action in the game, making the Cluppers offense look much smoother than it did in these two teams' first exhibition game in China.
After struggling offensively Thursday, Dwyane Wade made two early dunks in Sunday's meeting with the Clippers. He also moved well, splitting double-teams at the top of the key and running in transition for an alley-oop pass to LeBron James. He sat out the entire second half, though, possibly because the court appeared slippery. Barring a significant setback, Wade appears poised to play his usual load of minutes on opening night.
The Clippers exploited Miami's small frontline, as the Heat again started Shane Battier at the power forward. DeAndre Jordan shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the field against Miami, easy making jump-hooks over anyone who guarded him. The Clippers also grabbed twice as many rebounds as Miami did in the first half - 26 to 13 (the final margin was 49 to 36). Los Angeles as a whole shot 59 percent from the field in the first half, with Jamal Crawford making his first four shots from the field. It's important not to overstate a preseason game, though. James' ability to play big on both ends of the court allows Miami to play small without suffering on the glass or on defense. The NBA's best player only played 20 minutes tonight.
Ray Allen made a nice behind-the-back move for a layup and handled the ball quite a bit. But in the regular season and playoffs, Allen won't do much of that when he's playing with Wade and James. Allen had a bad game from the 3-point line, missing all five of his attempts from downtown. Rashard Lewis continued to give credence to the assertion that he's done. The former All-Star shot just 1-for-6 from the field. He made an open 3 to close the third quarter, but he definitely needs to show more than what he's done so far to merit playing time. The night was also one to forget for Norris Cole, who registered six turnovers and six points.
For the players trying to make the team, a long stint for Mickell Gladness didn't reveal much. He grabbed zero rebounds in seven first-half minutes and did nothing to stop Jordan and Blake Griffin defensively. It also wasn't a good night for Garrett Temple, who wants to make the Heat as the third point guard. He turned the ball over to Eric Bledsoe on his first trip up on the floor and finished with three mishaps.
On the other hand, Rodney Carney had a couple of good moments, including two made 3s and a nice breakaway dunk in the second quarter. Josh Harrellson also had a good defensive sequence against Lamar Odom, blocking his shot as he drove to the rim. Harrellson also made a few baskets, but they were all point-blank layups. Terrel Harris scored all nine of his points in the last six minutes of the game, helping Miami close the gap to six at one point.
The Heat will travel back to Miami for a home game against the Detroit Pistons Thursday.