The Heat started strong, forcing a turnover off a shot clock violation. The scoring was infrequent all around early on, but it was Jimmy Butler who would get things done early for the Heat (he had Miami’s first 6 points). The Clippers really struggled against the Miami defense, and Miami would take advantage with two consecutive Bam fast break dunks. Bam was very efficient hitting three of his first four shots, and stepping up after his poor performance against Washington.
Miami’s offense got into an amazing rhythm with the Heat lighting the Clippers up from beyond the arc for nine straight points thanks to Robinson and Herro.
The Clippers would battle back cutting at Miami’s lead thanks to strong play by Montrezl Harrell and Kawhi Leonard. They’d go a 13-6 run, but the Heat would escape into the second up eight.
Dion saw action and scored two threes to open the second quarter, showing off the instant offense capability that made him so valuable a few seasons ago. Miami made very smart decisions, easily getting to the free throw line and continuing to build on their lead.
The Clippers once again battled back going on a 6-0 run and Montrezl Harrell showing off his speed on a coast-to-coast lay-up forcing Miami call a timeout and insert Bam.
Dion saw a lot of minutes in the quarter, but showed some rust and defensive weakness. With the Clippers nipping at Miami’s heels, it was Herro who would step up offensively showing off his slashing ability.
As the quarter came to a close, Jimmy would get poked in the eye by Montrezl Harrell and looked to be in significant pain. He’d thankfully be okay and stay in the game.
As Harrell and Green chipped away at the lead, Miami would respond with an enormous Bam poster. Tyler Herro and Robinson would come alive once again from beyond the arc to keep Miami ahead, but it wouldn’t last as the Clippers got within single digits. Miami would go into the second half up only two.
Both teams were sloppy to start the third, but Bam and Duncan Robinson would work to keep Miami in the lead.
Jimmy also started to assert himself on offense, which was a good sign after the eye injury.
Every time the Heat scored, it seemed as if the Clippers were right behind them, unfortunately they’d take the lead off a go ahead jumper by Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers frustrated the Heat and fouled Jimmy by getting under his ankle on a three point look.
Jimmy looked furious as he made his free throws and inbounded the ball. Unfortunately for the Heat, Kawhi would activate after a quiet first half and thoroughly dominate offensively (he had a triple double before the fourth quarter) working to stretch a Clippers lead.
The Heat entered a scoring drought in the last few minutes and the Clippers would score eleven straight points to take a twelve point lead. The Heat looked lost on offense and would head into the fourth down 15.
In search of offense the Heat would put Dion back into the game and he’d deliver with another three pointer and a forced turnover on defense. He’d continue to score from deep and help Miami chip away at the lead.
Miami’s defense was weak, allowing the Clippers easy looks in the key and from beyond the arc. This allowed the Clippers to run up the score and eventually take an 18 point lead. Frustrations continued to mount resulting in a technical foul call against Erik Spoelstra, and things looked bleak.
With just over right minutes left, Jimmy would come back into the game to try and mount a comeback. It was Kelly Olynyk scoring seven straight points that breathed some life back into the building. With Miami within twelve, Jimmy would tweak his ankle on defense forcing him to sit. Jimmy really got beat up in this one, hopefully he won’t miss time.
Just when things looked out of reach, the Heat managed to get within five thanks to Robinson and Olynyk. Miami would get a huge stop shortly after and convert that into a big Dion transition three to get within three points.
On the following possession, Kawhi would get to the line to put the Clips up five. Bam would sprint to a quick dunk to get within three, but again Kawhi would score both at the line immediately after. The comeback would fall short.
Yes, Miami was missing two rotation guys in Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic and losing Jimmy in the fourth didn’t help, but the Heat need to figure out how to keep their leads. It’s a problem that’s haunted them over the last two seasons and if they’re going to have a real chance as a contender they need to fix it.
They play again on Monday against Orlando.