Overcoming yet another slow start, the L.A. Clippers (7-4) clocked in a total team effort to down the Jimmy Butler-less Miami Heat (7-5), 112-109 Thursday night. Paul George was absolute dynamite yet again, tallying a team-high 27 points (11-25 FG, 3-9 3PT), four rebounds, five assists and three steals in 38 minutes of action. In yet another promising performance, Eric Bledsoe added in a much-needed 21 points (9-16 FG, 2-6 3PT), three rebounds, three assists and three blocks. With the game on the line, Reggie Jackson delivered when the Clippers needed him the most once again, en route to 22 points (7-17 FG, 6-6 FT), three rebounds and two assists. Read on for our full Clippers vs. Heat game recap.
We mentioned in our preview that with Miami, who were coming in outscoring opponents by a +60 margin in the first quarter this season, the Clippers especially needed to put their usual opening frame sleepwalks behind them. Instead, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro proceeded to torch Staples Center along with a Heat unit shooting 68% (17-25 FG) from the field. Part of it was definitely the refs handing some free trips to the line to Adebayo early to get him going, but by the end of the quarter, it was just impossible to tell who played an overtime game last night. The Clippers got outrebounded 13-4. That can’t happen. Paul George still scored 11 in the opening frame to keep it manageable, but Miami ultimately took a 40-25 lead after one.
There’s just something about major momentum swings when the Clippers and Heat play. Out of the break, a trio of layups by Luke Kennard and Eric Bledsoe had the Clippers feeling good down just eight. Soon enough, however, Adebayo came back in and along with Gabe Vincent, disrupted the Clipper’s rhythm on both ends. With the deficit back up to 15, LAC took a timeout with 7:54 left. After the two teams traded early blows out of the whistle, spearheaded by Isaiah Hartenstein’s energy for LA, it was Kennard’s three-ball that woke up as Miami’s shooting began to fade. The Heat shot an abysmal 5-for-20 (25%) from the field and 1-for-12 (8.3%) from deep in the period. Meanwhile, after going 0-for-4 from deep to start, Kennard had a team-high 10 points off the bench in the frame, including a pair of back-to-back triples and timely tips and boards to ignite the Clipper faithful. The Clippers flipped the rebounding battle on its head as well, 15-8. With LAC collectively finding their flow a bit, they headed back to the locker room trailing just 58-56.
In the NBA, sometimes it’s just a case of make or miss, and unfortunately for Miami, Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe had a whole lot of makes. In a quarter in which the Heat had seven offensive rebounds, they still shot just 9-for-27 from the field and 1-for-10 from deep as Duncan Robinson and Herro just did not look fresh out there. On the other end, Jackson and Bledsoe combined for 22 of the Clippers’ 30 as Tyronn Lue cleverly let PG rest for the latter half of the quarter. Although Miami continued to play hard, their misses four turnovers just couldn’t stop the Clipper momentum from taking over. Through three, the Clippers took a 86-78 lead to the fourth.
In the final frame, both teams put on a show in Downtown Los Angeles, but Lue and the Clippers pushed all the right buttons to pull out the victory. With 22 points on 8-for-10 shooting (3-4 3PT), Kyle Lowry went absolutely ballistic to give Miami a chance down the stretch. Not only did he deliver the initial mid-range blows to keep the Heat in range, but Lowry also finished some loud and-1 plays both in the paint and from deep at the expense of Ivica Zubac. Beyond Lowry, however, Miami just did not have enough compared to the well-rounded contributions from LAC. PG had another killer sequence this season in which he pulled down an offensive rebound, nailed a three and then drew a charge on Adebayo. With LA up just one, Batum stripped Adebayo from pulling down an offensive rebound, and then went on to blow up yet another Miami after-timeout (ATO) set on the last play of the game. Big Government hit two pairs of free throws with the final result on the line.
Clippers vs. Heat Game Notes
- Bled, Sweat and Miami Tears: Tonight’s game marked the second promising game in a row for Eric Bledsoe, who proved to be a better shooter tonight than Duncan Robinson. While the Clippers won’t need to rely on him to nail jumpers left and right like he did tonight, his defense and playmaking are clearly skills this team could use going forward. Being able to continue knocking down two threes a game wouldn’t hurt though.
- Batum Beast Mode: With six points (2-4 FG/3PT), six boards, three assists, two steals and three blocks, Nicolas Batum continues to be the perfect role player that any contending team would be lucky to have. You need someone to hit the open corner 3? Make the sideline inbounds pass while clinging to a 1-point lead? How about completely disrupting the play the opposing coach just took a timeout to draw up? Batum also blocked Herro on a drive and stole the aforementioned crucial final-minute board from Adebayo in this one. He’s unreal.
- High Five, Fives: Both Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein got it done tonight. Although the Clippers lost the rebounding advantage 42-50, it was to the league’s best rebounding team, and clearly, more help needs to be given to both centers when the ball is up for grabs. That aside, there’s something to be said about bigs who can finish inside, hit free throws, make the extra pass and defend the rim without fouling (except in the fourth against Lowry in this case unfortunately for Zubac).
- Up Next: On the front end of LAC’s first back-to-back this season, the Clippers will host the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. PT.
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