The Miami Heat held on to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 116-112 on Wednesday night at Staples Center. The Clippers once again displayed their inability to defend when playing a quality opponent. Los Angeles seems to have no problem holding teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz under 90 points. But on the contrary, they have given up over 110 points to four out of their last seven opponents.
Miami displayed incredible ball movement, something that has been lacking from them at times this season. The Heat do a great job of making a pass at the last second even if the initial look at the basket is acceptable. It’s this extra pass that enables them to always shoot such a high percentage because of how wide open and in rhythm they repeatedly are.
The Heat finished with 33 assists on 41 field goals made. All five of Miami’s starters were in double-figures, with LeBron James leading the way with 31 points.
The Clippers, on the other hand, can score with the best, but their shots are certainly at a higher degree of difficulty. Part of the problem is not having Chris Paul at their disposal, which forces the team to rely on Jamal Crawford to go one-on-one. Crawford is explosive, but has proven to shoot his team out of a game against a capable defense. In the second half, Miami turned up their defense a notch as Darren Collison and Crawford could not break them down.
The Clippers made a nice run in the fourth quarter by taking advantage of their size to get multiple offensive rebounds, but it wasn’t enough.
The Clippers’ big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin continually lack an understanding of how to defend against great ball movement. Griffin in particular gets lost and forgets to rotate to the open space to defend the open man. Doc Rivers is not quite there with his squad in getting them to make multiple efforts to get stops. Ultimately, that will be the deciding factor if Los Angeles wants to compete for a championship, something the Heat know all about.