The Clippers outscored the Heat 37-27 in the final quarter, but an offensive foul by Jamal Crawford and clutch shooting by Ray Allen helped put the game away in favor of the opposition.
Spo on the #HEATwin: "It was a battle. We expected that coming in here tonight, we knew (LA) would play with urgency."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 6, 2014
Los Angeles destroyed the defending NBA champions on the glass, winning the battle 52-31. However, their shooting was very erratic (43 percent), while the Heat showed more consistency (52.6 percent).
Seven players scored in double figures for Miami, who were led by the 31 points of James. Blake Griffin would lead all scorers with 43 of his own.
Game Grades for Miami Heat
LeBron James, Small Forward
We may never see James compete in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, but I'm sure you'll find great joy in one of the many highlight-reel jams he threw down against the Clippers on Wednesday.
His numerous cuts to the basket and strong takes to the rim are to be expected at this point. That's the type of player James is on offense. He was making smart decisions with the basketball and exploiting lapses in the defense while taking high-percentage shots.
.@KingJames: "I think we're where we want to be right now. We've been playing some good basketball as of late and we want to continue that."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 6, 2014
What was even more impressive about his performance was his passing. The four-time MVP had 11 assists through the first three quarters, including alley-oop lobs and bounce passes through tight spaces
With the Clippers making their late surge in the fourth quarter, James took over and hit clutch baskets to keep the Heat in front.
While he didn't have the best line of the night, his near triple-double of 31 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds does deserve a second, third and fourth look.
James did account for nearly half of Miami's turnovers though (seven), but that's just me nitpicking at what was otherwise a world-class night.
Dwyane Wade, Shooting Guard
If you blinked, you probably missed Wade's opening basket of the game off a nice shimmy shake move on Matt Barnes, leading to the easy reverse layup. It was a sign of what was to come.
It's games like this which prove that head coach Erik Spoelstra's strategy of sitting his 10-time NBA All-Star for games at a time may actually pay off in the later months of the season. Wade looked fresh, energized and up for the moment against one of the top teams in the Western Conference.
He did mishandle a fairly straightforward pass from James late in the game that went out of bounds, which clearly drew some ire from his teammate.
It wasn't the best we've ever seen from Wade, but it was more than enough for the Heat. He scored 14 points and handed out eight assists in 35 minutes.
Chris Bosh, Center
The beautiful thing about Chris Bosh's game is his ability to stretch the floor with his shooting. Trying to post up the 6'11", 265-pound DeAndre Jordan is easier said than done, especially for a guy who gives up 30 pounds like Bosh does.
His three-point shot is all the more valuable when it can bring someone like Jordan away from the basket, thus clearing up space around the rim.
That's not the game Jordan likes to play, so it likely frustrated him knowing he had to play outside of his comfort zone as Bosh kept knocking down jumpers.
CB1 had a near double-double of 15 points and eight rebounds, although it did take him 15 shots to get there.
Mario Chalmers, Point Guard
He may be the starting point guard, but Mario Chalmers was the one finding himself as the recipient of many beautiful passes courtesy of his ball-handling teammates.
Who was the Player of the Game for the Miami Heat?
Chalmers scored both inside and outside, hitting three-pointers while also getting to the basket.
His four turnovers in 26 minutes will leave you shaking your head, but his 10 points and two steals on the defensive end will calm your nerves just a bit.
Shane Battier, Power Forward
Surprisingly enough, through the first 14 minutes of the game, Shane Battier was leading all scorers with 11 points.
He only averages 4.7 on the season, so having the wily veteran be a big factor on the offensive end that early in the game was a nice bonus for the Heat.
Battier went 4-of-8 from behind the arc, adding another three-pointer for a total of 14 points.
Ray Allen, Sixth Man
After being beaten by Crawford on one end, Ray Allen would respond with a huge three-point bucket to put the Heat back up by five at 112-107 with 42 seconds on the game clock.
Eleven of his 15 points came in the final quarter, including an all-important four-point play.
Get open and shoot, shoot and shoot some more. That's what Allen did.
Grade: B +
Chris "The Birdman" Andersen was the main contributor for the Heat's second unit against Los Angeles, scoring in double figures for the second times in his past three games. He brought a contagious energy, which carried over into the play of his teammates.
He was three boards away from a double-double off the bench (12 points and seven rebounds), so the proof is in the pudding to the kind of impact he had.
Norris Cole and Greg Oden both had limited playing time, combining for five points. Cole chipped in three steals, while Oden hit the glass for three rebounds.
Grade: B (If only for Andersen)
Game Grades for Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin, Power Forward
The more I watch Griffin this season, the more I appreciate the fact that his offensive repertoire is finally rounding into form.
He's a physical freak of nature, but there are still those naysayers who believe that he A) simply gets by on the fact that his athleticism is out of this world, and B) his back-to-the-basket game is still too underdeveloped to be considered elite at his position.
Those folk should take a look back at this game and see for themselves how far he's come.
He was active around the basket, getting to the charity stripe and making something out of nothing on a regular basis. The icing on the cake was high-flying slam dunks, which brought the Staples Center fans to their feet on more than one occasion.
Griffin did everything in his power to put his team on top, but it wasn't meant to be. He even drained a three-pointer late to keep things interesting. Go figure.
His night ended with 43 points, 15 rebounds and six assists on 34 shots. It was the fourth time in his career he has scored 40 or more.
Jamal Crawford, Shooting Guard
Usual starter J.J. Redick didn't suit up for the Los Angeles Clippers due to a sore left hip. Crawford, who usually comes off the bench as their sixth man, got the start at shooting guard.
You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in the NBA who hits more difficult, contested shots than Crawford. That was never more evident than his three-point dagger to close out the first half. He makes it look easy when it's obviously not.
It's as if Crawford thrives when he's throwing the ball up while getting knocked to the ground. The harder it is, the better.
His pull-up jumper over Allen with 1:07 left in the game brought the Clippers back within two points at 109-107. With no hesitation, the 14-year veteran put the ball on the floor and, with ice in his veins, knocked down the shot in such an important moment.
Crawford picked up an offensive foul two plays later, which gave the ball back to the defending NBA champions. His intentions were good, but James was right there in position to draw the charge.
In a game-high 47 minutes, Crawford scored 31 points, including five three-pointers.
DeAndre Jordan, Center
Jordan hasn't finished a game with single-digit rebounds since Dec. 11 against the Boston Celtics when he grabbed just six.
His current streak of 29 games with 10 or more boards is the longest the NBA has seen in over three years, according to ESPN announcer Mike Breen.
Jordan can give you some points, but you're going to have to lead him by the hand and put the basketball in a position where he can leap up, grab it and throw it down.
Ironically enough, that's where a majority of his baskets came from against the Heat. Jordan even hit 4-of-5 from the charity stripe, which is a number you'll take any day of the week from someone shooting just 42.5 percent on the year.
Darren Collison, Point Guard
Darren Collison was an asset with his passing, dishing out nine assists.
His scoring? He was more of a detriment than anything, missing five of his six shots. You'll accept the assist numbers, but his lack of offense put more pressure on the rest of the starters in that respect.
Collison was the only starter to not reach double-digit points, despite totalling 38 minutes of action.
Matt Barnes, Small Forward
Best known for being one of the tougher perimeter defenders in the league, Barnes sure had his hands full contending with the likes of James and Wade.
He had his moments where he picked up sloppy fouls while getting beaten off the dribble by the quicker and stronger James.
It happens. It's not the easiest job in the world.
Barnes still managed to produce 12 points in 40 minutes. He was a tad trigger-happy with his long-range shot, going 1-of-5 from behind the arc.
Jared Dudley, Sixth Man
As was the case for the second unit as a whole, the production simply wasn't there for Jared Dudley.
His outside shooting is considered to be one of his biggest weapons, but against the Heat, he missed all three of his three-point attempts.
Dudley did grab five rebounds, but the Clippers could have used more.
Grade: D +
Hedo Turkoglu basically crossed himself over in the second quarter, injuring himself to the point where he didn't return for the rest of the game. He played just two minutes.
Hedo has bruised right knee.— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) February 6, 2014
Willie Green had more personal fouls (three) than points (two), while "The Machine" Sasha Vujacic saw the floor for a little over 60 seconds.
Not much to see or grade here.
The Miami Heat will continue their Western Conference road trip with games against the Utah Jazz (Feb. 8), Phoenix Suns (Feb. 11) and Golden State Warriors (Feb. 12) before taking time off for NBA All-Star weekend.
The Los Angeles Clippers will do the exact opposite, hosting three more games at home against the Toronto Raptors (Feb. 7), Philadelphia 76ers (Feb. 9) and Portland Trail Blazers (Feb. 12) prior to the All-Star festivities in New Orleans.
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