Clippers outlast Heat in OT thriller
LOS ANGELES (AP)
The Clippers delivered their biggest win of the young season for their long suffering fans, and promptly wanted to forget about it.
''It's just another win, we can't hang our hat on that,'' said Blake Griffin, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds. ''It's about winning these games and winning the so-called smaller games because that's what puts your franchise in a winning position.''
Both teams were coming off road losses the previous night when the Heat lost at Golden State in OT.
''The level was definitely raised a little bit,'' Griffin said. ''We were tired, but the intensity was as high as it should be. It's good to get a win and get it by grinding it out.''
LeBron James had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the 200th double-double of his career, Mario Chalmers added 18 points, Dwyane Wade 17 and Chris Bosh had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who have now lost their last four games against the Clippers at Staples Center.
''We defended and gave ourselves a chance to win, and that's all you can ask for,'' James said. ''So we can be satisfied. I mean, you don't like to lose, but we're not going to hang our heads about this one.''
The Clippers outscored the Heat 9-3 in the extra session, when James, Bosh and Wade missed on a combined seven shots and the team was 1 for 10. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra got ejected after a technical foul with five seconds left.
Miami's Big Three struggled in the fourth quarter, too, combining to go 3 for 8 as the team went 4 of 12 overall.
''A lot of times we were able to get LeBron to the rim, and that's what we wanted,'' Wade said. ''It's not always going to go in, but we can leave here with our heads up high, knowing that we stuck to our game plan. We just didn't get the win.''
The Clippers' shooting nearly let them down in the final four minutes of regulation when they missed shot after shot, but got bailed out by Miami's own problems.
The Clippers led by two with 27 seconds left in regulation before James tied it 86-86 on a free throw. The Clippers called their final timeout and Paul dribbled around with James hounding him before putting up a shot that missed as time expired, forcing the Heat to the third overtime of their trip.
James missed three consecutive baskets in overtime and he was 6 of 10 from the line in the final 5:49 of regulation. Chalmers hit a three-pointer for Miami's only points in the extra session.
Jordan scored four points and Butler had three in OT.
With the Clippers trailing 84-83, Billups got fouled by James on a three with 27 seconds left in regulation and made all three free throws. The Clippers finished 17 of 23 from the line, while the Heat were just 20 of 34.
''We missed 14 free throws and eight of them came from me,'' James said. ''I've been shooting the ball particularly well from the free throw line, but tonight I didn't make enough. So I put our free throw shooting on me. It's kind of a rhythm when it trickles down to everybody else, so I've got to concentrate a little more and knock them down when I get fouled.''
Wade added, ''We haven't missed this many free throws on this team, probably ever.''
The Heat won two video reviews in the final 16 seconds of regulation, but they failed to make a field goal in the final 7:32.
Neither team led by more than three points in a physical fourth quarter that featured Wade knocking Paul to the court and Norris Cole and Mo Williams colliding.
''There's a lot of guys out there that, if you look at them, they like to lift a lot of weights, so it is going to be physical,'' James said. ''These are two teams that have high hopes, so when that kind of clash happens, it's going to be physical.''
The Clippers ended the third quarter with a 12-9 spurt, capped by Paul whipping a pass across the lane to Jordan for a baseline dunk that sent them into the final 12 minutes leading 70-69. Paul and Butler combined for 10 of the Clippers' 12 points in the run.
NOTES: The Clippers went 1-1 in their first back-to-back of the shortened season. ... The Heat are 5-3 in four back-to-back sets. ... Paul evened his career rivalry with good friend James at six wins apiece. ''We hate to lose to each other,'' Paul said. ... The game drew a standing room only crowd of 19,341. The Clippers have sold out all five of their home games and 17 straight dating to last season. ... Celebs attending included Rihanna, Chris Rock, Billy Crystal, Sinbad, Gabrielle Union and former Los Angeles Angels teammates Jered Weaver and John Lackey. Union is Wade's girlfriend.