After facing another early 9-2 deficit, the Miami Heat were able to rally from behind to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers by a final score of 102-97.
In spite of the slow start for Miami, the two teams traded blows for the entire first half. Miami only led once in the first half, leading 38-36 for a total of 42 seconds, before a Darren Collison three returned the lead to the Clippers.
The Heat appeared to be struggling to kick it in to that next gear that they so often go to when they're behind, until a Clippers timeout with 5:56 in the 3rd quarter. Coming out of the timeout, the Heat forced a shot clock violation, and from that point forward, the Heat continued to show a level of aggressiveness that we hadn't seen so far this season. Shane Battier drew charges on Blake Griffin on back-to-back possessions, LeBron James scored five straight points, and the Heat closed the quarter on a 12-5 run, and went in to the 4th quarter up 76-73.
From there, Dwyane Wade took over. Wade opened the quarter by scoring 9 points on 4-5 shooting in under four minutes. He also chipped in two assists, and the Heat managed to grow their lead from three to 11 just over four minutes in to the quarter.
Wade finished the game with 29 points on 13-22 shooting. Wade also contributed 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals (and 7 turnovers but lets ignore that) in what was easily his best performance of the young season, and it came on a night when the Heat as a whole seemed to lack energy.
Chris Bosh came out hot early, but didn't contribute much as the game went on, finishing with just 12 points on 4-8 shooting and 6 rebounds. Statistically speaking, tonight wasn't the finest game of LeBron's career, as he ended the game with just 18 points on 46% shooting, but his five straight points in the third quarter gave the Heat the spark they needed to run away with this one.
Ray Allen was huge off the bench in this one, providing 12 points on 5-8 shooting.
While the Clippers dominated the glass all night (DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin each had 14 rebounds), they were just never able to get a stop when they needed, evidenced by the 53.5% that the Heat shot from the field.
Miami's defensive surge in the 3rd quarter helped contain Chris Paul, who was never a huge factor at any point in the game. While CP3 did pick up nine first half assists, the upped defensive intensity limited him to just 3 in the second half, to go along with just 11 points on 3-10 shooting.
Blake Griffin did everything he could on the offensive end, finishing with 25 points on 10-14 shooting, but ultimately, the inability to get stops did the Clippers in tonight.
Tonight was an off night for the Heat from downtown, as they hit just 5 of their 16 attempts, but Miami was able to get the ball in to the lane with ease, picking up 46 points from in the paint, and ultimately making up from their three point blues.
Next up for the Heat is a matchup with the 1-4 Celtics at 7:30 on Saturday night at the American Airlines Arena.