The Los Angeles Clippers were favored to win coming into their matchup tonight against the Miami Heat, but not by much. It was crucial that the Clippers have a solid game against the reigning champs to legitimize their ever-increasing status within the league and continue the momentum they have established so far this season.
In other words, the Clippers had something to prove at home in the Staples Center tonight. And boy, did they deliver in their 107-100 win.
The Clippers dominated the energy on both ends of the floor. On offense, they moved the ball extremely well and ended with a nice balance between outside and inside points. On defense, they forced 19 turnovers, 6 more than the Heat average this season. They particularly stepped up their fast-tempo play in the 2nd half, utilizing their bench depth to ensure that none of their players–starters or bench–ever looked or played tired. In fact, no player on the Clippers played more than 31 minutes the entire game. Talk about spreading the love around.
On defense, the Clippers were able to keep Dwayne Wade to 6 points, although it was obvious that he was not at full strength. Wade was playing on a sore left foot that kept him out of the morning shootaround, and it reflected in his uncharacteristic sluggishness tonight. LeBron James had a big game, but he alone could not save the Heat.
True to this season’s form, Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 22 points. Blake Griffin had an explosive night with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists. And when it mattered, Chris Paul delivered the 3-point shots, ending the game with 16 points and 10 assists.
For the Heat, James led the team with 30 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. Ray Allen off the bench followed with 14 points and 5 steals.
With tonight’s win, the Clippers advance to 6-2, dropping the Heat to 6-3. On Saturday, the Clippers take on the Chicago Bulls at the Staples Center.