Preview: Heat seek another road victory in late game vs Clippers

Jeff Gross

In tonight's late game, the Clippers try to build a four game winning streak against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. Should we be worried? Read on and chime in.

The Miami Heat will be visiting the Los Angeles Clippers tonight at 10:30 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. It's the first of two meetings this season between the opposing coastal powerhouses, and the only time they will match up in L.A. The Heat will be playing in the fourth game of a six game road trip. After securing a fourth straight victory by beating the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, 95-89, they dropped a 104-86 decision to the Memphis Grizzlies before rebounding with a win over the Rockets in Houston on Monday, 113-110. They will finish up their trip with stops to play the Nuggets in Denver and the Phoenix Suns. The Clippers are hoping to notch their fourth victory in a row against the defending NBA champs. After opening the season with two wins followed by two losses, the Clippers have easily dispatched their last three opponents by an average of 16 points. The San Antonio Spurs, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Atlanta Hawks have all offered up at most token resistance to Lob City West. The Clippers close up their three game homestand on Saturday against the Chicago Bulls.

The two teams last met on January 11th as the 4-3 Clippers stoned the 8-2 Heat in Los Angeles in overtime by six. Partial recap courtesy of NBA.COM:

The Clippers delivered their biggest win of the young season for their long suffering fans, and promptly wanted to forget about it.

Chris Paul had 27 points and 11 assists as Clippers rallied to beat Miami 95-89 in overtime Wednesday night, dealing the Heat a second straight extra-time loss.

"It's just another win, we can't hang our hat on that," said Blake Griffin, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds. "It's about winning these games and winning the so-called smaller games because that's what puts your franchise in a winning position."

Caron Butler added 20 points, and Chauncey Billups had 12 for the Clippers, 9-2 against Miami at home since 2001-02. DeAndre Jordan had 11 rebounds.

Both teams were coming off road losses the previous night, when the Heat lost at Golden State in OT.

"The level was definitely raised a little bit," Griffin said. "We were tired, but the intensity was as high as it should be. It's good to get a win and get it by grinding it out."

LeBron James had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the 200th double-double of his career, Mario Chalmers added 18 points, Dwyane Wade 17 and Chris Bosh had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who have lost their last four games against the Clippers at Staples Center.

Full Recap

Box Score

Heat vs Clippers 1/11/12 Highlights (via phillykid330)

Miami defeated the Houston Rockets by three in their matchup on Monday at the Toyota Center in Houston. Partial recap courtesy of NBA.COM:


LeBron James put on a second-half show and helped the Miami Heat finally put away Houston.

James scored 32 of his season-high 38 points after halftime, Chris Bosh had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Miami rallied to beat the Rockets 113-110 on Monday night.

Dwyane Wade added 19 points for the Heat, who shot 47.6 percent from 3-point range (10 of 21) and 51 percent from the field overall.

James went 12 for 20 from the field and 5 for 7 from 3-point range in the second half. He gave the Heat the lead for good with a driving layup with 19 seconds left.

"It's the zone you hear about," James said. "Certain players talk about getting into the zone. I wish I could get into it more. But when you're in it, you know how it feels, you know everything you put up and how you're going is pretty good."

Chandler Parsons scored a career-high 25 points and Omer Asik had a career-best 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who led 110-106 with 90 seconds left.

Full Recap

Box Score

NBA CIRCLE - Miami Heat Vs Houston Rockets Highlights 12 November 2012 www.nbacircle.com (via NEWNBACIRCLE)

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra waxed glowingly of James rebirth as a clutch juggernaut:

"How did anybody ever question [James], looking back on it now. In big moments, this guy is the ultimate competitor. He gets absolutely amplified in these situations. ... We don't take him for granted. We know how valuable he is."

The Clippers won their third straight game at the expense of the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday by 13. NBA.COM's partial recap:

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul can rest a little easier when they get a breather these days. The Los Angeles Clippers have a strong group of reserves ready to pick up the slack.

Jamal Crawford, Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes engineered a big fourth-quarter run to help the Clippers beat the Atlanta Hawks 89-76 on Sunday.

Griffin scored 16 points and Paul had 15 points and eight assists. But it was the backups who played a key role in the pivotal 15-1 surge in the final period.

"It's fun to watch, and it's exciting for our team," Paul said. "We really feed off their energy, and it's a huge advantage for us. Guys like Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf, they know who they are in this league. And that's the key to everything. They're not going to try to do anything outside of themselves or be something they're not. And that's why we have confidence in them."

The Clippers' reserves outscored their counterparts 35-32, marking the first time in five games this season the Hawks were outscored in the battle of the benches. Atlanta had a 47-28 advantage against Houston, a 47-32 margin over Oklahoma City, and entered this game with a 41.8 scoring average by the reserves.

"We come in and change the pace and bring energy," Bledsoe said. "For the most part, we have the same defensive instincts as the starters. Everybody knows what everyone else is capable of and what we have to do. Ronny and Ryan know how to play great defense as big men. They talk and let us know when the screens are coming and when they're not. That's a good feeling, when you know your teammates have your back."

Full Recap

Box Score

NBA CIRCLE - Atlanta Hawks Vs LA Clippers Highlights 11 November 2012 www.nbacircle.com (via NEWNBACIRCLE)

Jamal Crawford, with 11 off the bench, spoke about the embarrassment of riches the Clippers enjoy on the bench:

"We think our bench is better than a lot of starting units. When we go out there, we try to do a job, collectively. Everyone understands their role and we just try to be successful."


Game Time: 10:30 PM ET

Current Odds: Clippers by -1 1/2

All-Time Series: 29-18

Season Series: 0-0

Standings:

Miami Heat: 6-2, first in the Southeast Division, tied for second in the Eastern Conference, tied for fourth in the NBA. Last five: W-W-W-L-W. Current odds of making the postseason: 88.4%

Los Angeles Clippers: 5-2, first in the Pacific Division, tied for fourth in the Western Conference, tied for sixth in the NBA. Last five: L-L-W-W-W, Current odds of making the postseason: 78.6%


Probable Starters:

Miami Heat:
PG - Mario Chalmers
SG - Dwyane Wade
SF - Shane Battier
PF - LeBron James
CF - Chris Bosh

Los Angeles Clippers:
PG - Chris Paul
SG - Willie Green
SF - Caron Butler
PF - Blake Griffin
C - DeAndre Jordan

Common Thread:

Clippers forward Caron Butler, now in his 11th season, spent his first two NBA seasons as a member of the Heat. He averaged 12.5 points and five rebounds per game over 146 regular season contests, in 33.5 minutes per night.

14-year veteran forward Lamar Odom of the Clippers spent the 2003-04 season with Miami. In 80 games he averaged 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds while playing just over three quarters per contest.

Clippers depth forward Ronny Turiaf spent last seasons' stretch run on the Heat. In 13 regular season games he scored 3.5 while grabbing 4.5 rebounds per contest.

Heat Milestones:
With 18 more rebounds, forward Udonis Haslem will become Miami's all-time leader, passing Alonzo Mourning with 4,808.
With 13 assists, LeBron James will move into Miami's All-Time top 10, with 1,003, displacing Grant Long.
LBJ needs 26 points to pass Shaquille O'Neal into 11th on Miami's all-time scoring list, with 4,011 points.

Team Leaders:

Heat:
PPG: LeBron James, 23.9, Chris Bosh, 20.9, Dwyane Wade, 18.4

RPG: LeBron James, 10.0, Chris Bosh, 7.4, Udonis Haslem, 4.6

APG: LeBron James, 6.1, Mario Chalmers, 5.5, Dwyane Wade, 4.7

SPG: Mario Chalmers, 1.6, Dwyane Wade, 1.3, Chris Bosh, 1.0

BPG: Chris Bosh, 1.1, Dwyane Wade, 1.0, Shane Battier 0.9

Clippers:
PPG: Jamal Crawford, 20.3, Chris Paul, 17.1, Blake Griffin, 15.7

RPG: Blake Griffin, 8.3, DeAndre Jordan, 7.1, Matt Barnes, 5.0

APG: Chris Paul, 10.3, Blake Griffin, 3.6, Eric Bledsoe, 2.9

SPG: Chris Paul, 2.0, Eric Bledsoe, 1.6, Blake Griffin, 1.4

BPG: DeAndre Jordan, 2.1, Ronny Turiaf, 1.2, Lamar Odom, 0.9

Prognostication:
If you're paying attention, this game is kind of a big deal. Call it the Finals preview, call it Lob City East vs. West - just don't call it too late to watch. If the Heat followers in Florida go to bed and miss this game, they stand a reeeeeal good chance of missing some poster-worthy moments. Both teams run quick, athletic offenses - mirror images some would say. Chris Paul is preternaturally quick on a bad day, and Blake Griffin does more than commercials. They'll certainly have their hands full as the Heat come to town. A lot has been made of the "Big Three," but Miami's bench, much like the Clippers, is greatly improved from last season. If Miami can control the glass, they'll control the outcome.

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