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Heat fight off Clippers, earn 110-100 victory

Miami fought off the Clippers, led by Bam “Slam” Adebayo.

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The first half between the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Clippers displayed perhaps the best set of 24 minutes for the Heat this season. It almost looked like a completely new team to begin 2023.

They led by 18 (after leading by as much as 21), featured offensive connectivity, played on a string with great intensity defensively, won the non-Bam Adebayo minutes by 13 — a monumental accomplishment, given how frontcourt behind him has played the previous 38 games — and, most importantly, they were playing free with tempo.

Though predictably enough, if you’ve been watching the Heat at all this season, it wouldn’t been as big of a surprise to you that its once-21-point lead quickly washed away faster than one could blink in the third turd quarter. Paul George’s pull-up trey put Los Angeles ahead 77-75 with 3:28 left in the quarter as the tides completely turned.

Miami got outscored 34-14 heading into the final period down two. But nevertheless, the Heat swung the game’s final punch and connected — converging together to earn the 110-100 victory over the Clippers.

Miami’s effort was spearheaded by Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo, who picked up right where he left off in Utah. Adebayo finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds on 12-of-19 shooting, administering multiple rim-rocking jams, including a couple posterizing putback finishes.

Herro provided 23 points on 7-of-15 shooting with five triples, adding seven boards and three assists. Oladipo was, once again, a menace on both ends in the best way imaginable. He had 15 points, converting on six of his 11 field goal attempts. Oladipo added five boards, four assists and one steal, providing pivotal defense on the Clippers’ guards and wings at the top of Miami’s zone all evening.

Max Strus was Miami’s only other double figure scorer with 13 points and three triples, coming just a couple rebounds shy of a double-double.

On an evening without Kawhi Leonard (non-COVID illness), the onus was on Paul George to lead Los Angeles. He had 25 points on 7-of-16 shooting and 4-of-10 from 3-point range; adding seven assists and a game-high three steals. Marcus Morris added 14 points with seven boards; Ivica Zubac had 10 points with seven rebounds while Luka Kennard provided 11 points with two 3s in 18 minutes off the bench.

Miami is now two games above .500 for the first time all season, having won four of their last five games with its lone loss coming by five at the hands of back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic.

Not everything has been perfect; heck, for 12 minutes on Monday, everything imaginable for Miami fell apart. And Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry had uninspiring outings. But the team performance continued showing signs of an end-product that’s (very) slowly coming together with Oladipo’s insertion and the bench playing better — even if it’s still far from finished, or consistently looking fashionable.