FINAL | February 8, 2013 | AmericanAirlines, Miami, FL















MIAMI – It was hardly what the Clippers could have imagined. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Jamal Crawford returning to the lineup at the same time, only to have the shorthanded Miami Heat steal the show in the final three quarters.

The Clippers were down one point after the opening 12 minutes, despite a hot start from the field by Miami. However, the defending champions, playing without Ray Allen and Chris Bosh, never cooled down and L.A. fell, 111-89, Friday at American Airlines Arena.  

It was the fourth loss in six games on the Clippers’ season-long, eight-game road trip, and first with Paul and Billups in the lineup.

“We didn’t guard the 3-ball at all tonight and they spread us,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “They shot it well and made some tough shots. We’re monitoring minutes with some guys and trying to get Chris back. I’m just happy we came out of the game so far unscathed injury-wise.”

Paul played 18 minutes in his return after missing 12 of the last 14 games with a bruised right kneecap, but scored a season-low three points with two assists and three turnovers. He was removed with just over four minutes left in the third quarter and the Heat (33-14) up by 31.

The Clippers (35-17) allowed 30 points or more in each of the first three quarters, and were buried by a 20-3 run over a 3:38 stretch in the third quarter.

“They (the Heat) were the aggressors,” said Jamal Crawford when asked about the Heat’s run. “They kind of had us on our heels a little bit.”

Crawford scored 13 points off the bench, including a mystifying crossover on LeBron James that led to a stepback jumper from 20 feet in the second quarter. He played through a sore right shoulder that earlier in the day made him wary if he would be able to suit up.

Griffin, who missed two games with a strained left hamstring, had 13 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes. Billups scored seven points with four assists, while DeAndre Jordan had a team-high 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Paul and Billups connected on their first shots of the game, both 3-pointers, but it was the Heat that could hardly miss Friday. They went 15-for-27 from 3-point range, matching the season-high for 3-point makes by a Clippers opponent, and shot 52.9% for the game overall.

“Part of it was that they never really felt us,” Paul said. “We’ve got to do a better job impacting the ball. All of us. We’ve got to bump guys who’re rolling. [LeBron James is] in a rocking chair, dancing with the ball and doing all that stuff.  I think it’s on us. We’ve got to impose our will a little bit more.”

James fueled Miami with a game-high 30 points on 9-for-11 shooting, adding five rebounds and six assists. He also went 4-for-5 from long distance.

The Heat’s shooting and James’ overall dominance was compounded by the Clippers’ carelessness with the basketball. They committed 19 turnovers, leading to 27 Miami points. In the last four games, L.A. has committed 74 turnovers (18.5 per game) leading to 97 points (24.25). Three of those games came without Paul manning the ship, which made Friday’s performance all the more uncharacteristic.

Del Negro talked prior to the game about “piecing it all together” with the lineup back intact. But in the first half, whether it was due to foul trouble for Griffin and Paul or a lack of cohesion with the suddenly reformulated group of starters, the Clippers struggled containing the Heat.

Miami shot 67.6% in the first 24 minutes. James was nearly flawless as was Miami’s contingent of long-range shooters. Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Rashard Lewis combined to make seven of the Heat’s eight first-half 3-pointers.

Even without the NBA’s all-time leader in threes, Allen, Miami had the Clippers scrambling. Rotations seemed slow, players were caught going for steals in the backcourt and two quick fouls on Paul less than five minutes into the game slowed any momentum they may have seized from the return of four of their core players.

Afterwards Griffin, who said he felt physically “good” but was admittedly a little “off” at the outset, said the idea that the Clippers were merely working out the kinks is not acceptable.

“I wish we could [say that],” Griffin said. “They beat us pretty badly. We needed better effort and we can’t just write this off to, ‘We’ve got everybody back and we were a little rusty.’ We’ve got to be better than that.”


Forward/center Ronny Turiaf, who played for the 2011-12 title-winning Heat, received his championship ring prior to the game. Miami played a video tribute and Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra greeted him at halfcourt… Butler scored his 11,000th career point in the first quarter when he knocked down a 3-pointer. He is the 48th active player to reach the milestone… Paul’s streak of 50 straight games with at least one steal was snapped. Mike Conley now owns the longest active streak at 38… The Heat scored 62 points in the first half, matching the season-high for points in a half by a Clippers’ opponent… The Clippers are 10-11 in 2013… Ryan Hollins matched his season in rebounds on back-to-back outings, securing eight boards in 21 minutes.


“Surprisingly I felt pretty good,” Paul said. “I think that’s the most exciting thing about tonight. I asked Chauncey how he felt and he said he felt pretty good. I’m actually excited because we’re back on the court. For us, it’s not about this game. It is what it is. We’d have loved to win, but it’s more about seeing what our team is about.

“As long as we stay healthy, we’re going to be fine.” 





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