Despite a Deandre Jordan slam to start the game, Miami started off hot. The Heat and Clippers would go back and forth as Hassan worked to control Jordan on defense. On offense without Dion Waiters, the Heat were led by Goran Dragic. He hit some great buckets and really challenged Beverley, getting him into foul trouble early.
The Heat would get an offensive boost with Tyler Johnson, but still they struggled downing some open looks. Thankfully, the Clippers didn’t have much pushback as they missed multiple alley oop attempts.
James Johnson would check in in the final minutes of the quarter and open things up for the Heat scoring two buckets and contributing on the defensive end. He looks pretty healthy after dealing with knee tendinitis for much of last week. The Heat really got rolling as the quarter came to a close, going on a 20-8 run, with outstanding play on both the offensive and defensive ends. Also, the heat didn’t have a single turnover for the entire first quarter.
The Heat continued rolling into the second quarter, with Tyler Johnson catching fire. The Clippers really struggled to score on offense, and Miami took full advantage as they continued to build their league. Josh Richardson proved to be a defensive force as he racked up steal after steal, and Wayne Ellington did more than spot up shooting (he did still have 5 treys) as he threw down a thunderous slam.
Miami would head into the second half up 13.
The Heat would pick up exactly where they left off headed into the second half. It was Hassan Whiteside who would lead the charge as he dominated on offense and defense. Josh Richardson also rediscovered his shooting stroke appearing much more confident from beyond the arc.
The Clippers just couldn’t seem to find an offensive rhythm, though they did have their moments. For the most part, they deferred to Blake Griffin who was very well defended by Okaro White. On the defensive end, the Clippers looked defeated at times. This was made clear on a James Johnson iso where Austin Rivers clearly just gave up as JJ went up for a dunk. James Johnson had a few noteworthy buckets, his body control is really something else.
As the third quarter came to a close, the “Let’s go Heat!” Chants started to become very audible. Miami would head into the fourth up 23.
The Clippers came out firing in the fourth, cutting Miami’s lead down to 14 as they went on an 11-0 run (that run would continue). Miami would enter a terrible scoring drought and would blow most of their lead as the Clippers feasted. A James Johnson put-back slam would get the Heat back on the board, but the Heat still looked out of sync on both ends of the floor. The Heat started to make stupid mistakes, turning the ball over at bad times and lapsing defensively. The Clippers would battle all the way back to take the lead leaving Miami without a foot to stand on. Thankfully the Heat would find some offense off key plays from Dragic, Whiteside and Richardson.
A Dragic turnover in the final minute of the game would cause the Heat to lose the lead. James Johnson would also turn the ball over in the next possession. A foul on a James Johnson pass would send him to the line during the next Miami possession. He would sink both free throws to put the Heat up one with 8.7 seconds left. Miami defended well for the Clips’ final shot causing a Blake Griffin miss. Josh Richardson would get fouled a second later and sink two free throws to seal the win for Miami.
Three Things Before I go:
- Blown leads. What the hell. The Heat looked like they thought they’d already won headed into the fourth. They suddenly stopped doing the things that worked in the first three quarters and paid for it.
- The Heat are capable of good defense. Through the first three quarters the Heat were incredibly chippy on defense and clearly irritated the Clippers. They grew frustrated often and that translated to poor short selection and turnovers.
- A win is a win. While I would have loved Miami to win this one on a blowout, I’ll take the win.