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Heat hold on for 121-114 win versus visiting Clippers

It wasn’t pretty at the end, but the Heat withstood a late Clippers rally for the victory.

Los Angeles Clippers v Miami Heat Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Coasting to victory isn’t the Miami Heat way as of late, but once again they held off a late rally from an opponent to hold on for the tight win — this time in a 121-114 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

A quiet night from Tyler Herro was offset by another impressive game from starting point guard Gabe Vincent, who has been playing stellar minutes in Kyle Lowry’s absence from the team. Vincent nailed six of a career-high-tying seven 3-pointers in the third quarter to help extend the Heat’s biggest lead at the time to 23 points.

The Clippers were without All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but they managed to cut the lead to 11 points in the third, though the Heat pushed back and finished the quarter holding a 96-80 lead. Even though L.A. surrendered 39 points in that quarter, they still responded in the fourth quarter led by Luke Kennard with 16 points in the quarter as well as Amir Coffey to get to as close as four points.

Jimmy Butler was spectacular with a team-leading 26 points on 5-12 shooting and a perfect 16-16 from the field. Miami needed every free throw in crunch time from Butler, with Tyler Herro having a wobbly game with 11 points and three costly late-game turnovers that gave the Clippers more chances to cut the deficit closer and closer. PJ Tucker knocked down a clutch corner 3 and a short jumper, and Herro redeemed himself with a timely 3-pointer to help put the game away.

Tucker scored 18 points and Bam Adebayo tallied another double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Not to be outdone, fellow starter Duncan Robinson also had another strong outing with 16 points on 6-9 shooting and 4-7 beyond the arc.

Despite outrebounding the Clippers 51-37 and shooting 44.1% from 3-point territory and 96.3% from the free throw line while L.A. shot 25.7% from long distance and 71.9% in free throws, the game was a lot closer than it had to be at the end. Yes, the team is finding ways to hold on to win and losing their floor general is a factor, but they still need to learn from this so that it doesn’t come back to haunt them in the playoffs.

Miami holds a 1.5 game lead in the standings for the top spot in the Eastern Conference over the Chicago Bulls, who lost tonight against the San Antonio Spurs. They will be back in action tomorrow night when they host the Toronto Raptors at 8:00pm.