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Heat 108 - Clippers 97: Taking care of business

The Miami Heat defended their home court with their 4th straight home victory and defeated a woeful Los Angeles Clippers team 108-97. It was a rare Heat victory where the outcome never really seemed in doubt and the lethargic play by the Clippers helped matters tremendously. Dwyane Wade played a very efficient, well-rounded game with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists and looked well on his way to securing a rare triple-double if it wasn’t for the fact that his services weren’t needed in the 4th quarter. Mario Chalmers didn’t start over Carlos Arroyo (4 points, 2 assists) but made a good case for it with 4 of 7 three-point shooting and 6 assists in 30 minutes off the bench. Jermaine O’Neal started slowly but came around with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Of the Clippers, only former Heat player Rasual Butler really showed up to play with 31 points but most of those points came in the first half, going scoreless in the final 17 minutes of the game. What really helped the Heat’s cause was the uninspired play by their stars Chris Kaman and Baron Davis. Kaman may well have finished with 16 points but most of those came in garbage time, as he didn’t score a basket until the third quarter. Their bench didn’t help much with 22 combined points either. With the injury to Eric Gordon, Davis was shifted to shooting guard and Steve Blake started at point guard instead but it largely backfired since Davis was unable to keep up with Wade’s dribble drive penetration. This contributed to a huge free throw disparity as the Heat almost tripled the Clippers’ paltry 13 free throw attempts. Too many jump shots and static movement by the Clippers doomed them. Wade by himself had more free throws made and attempted than the Clippers combined. Although the Clippers as a team had three more field goals than the Heat did, it was the 19 extra points that came from the free throw line that sealed the victory.