LeBron James Spoils Griffin and Paul’s Return, Heat Burn Clippers 111-89
MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James scored 30 points in another efficient performance, Dwyane Wade scored 20 and the Miami Heat dominated the middle two quarters on the way to an easy 111-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night.
James shot 9 for 11, giving him 37 makes on his last 47 attempts, and sat out the fourth quarter. It was his fourth straight 30-point game, tying him with Wade as the only Heat player with such streaks in the franchise’s 25-year history.
Mario Chalmers finished with 18 points and Shane Battier scored 12 for Miami, which improved to 21-3 at home.
The Clippers got Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin back from injuries, but that trio of starters combined for only 23 points. DeAndre Jordan led Los Angeles with 17 points.
Miami was without Chris Bosh and Ray Allen, both sidelined with the flu.
James made his first six shots, and his first miss came when Jordan was credited with a block on a play where he also struck the NBA’s reigning MVP in the face, leaving him briefly shaken up — so much so that on the ensuing jump ball, James simply stayed down, letting Jordan win the tap uncontested.
It was the last gift he gave the Pacific Division leaders.
On the play where Jordan won the tip, he got a dunk at the other end to get Los Angeles within 10 at 64-54. Three minutes later, Miami’s lead was 24 — a 14-0 run put it away, and James took care of the first half of those points within a span of 37 seconds.
He connected on a 3-pointer while getting fouled by Jordan, then made another 3 on Miami’s next possession. Wade followed with two highlight-reel plays, a two-handed slam on a baseline drive followed by an acrobatic turnaround jumper, and Chalmers connected on a 3-pointer to seal the run and put the Heat up 78-54.
At one point in the third quarter, Miami was shooting 69 percent from the field and 68 percent from 3-point range for the game. The Heat cooled down the stretch, finishing at 53 percent from the floor and 56 percent from beyond the arc.
There was plenty of buzz pregame, for good reason — matchup of division leaders, teams looking to go deep into the postseason. And when the Clippers said before the game that Billups (left foot tendinitis), Paul (bruised right kneecap), Griffin (strained left hamstring) and Jamal Crawford (sore right shoulder) were all fit to return, it seemed as if a showdown was highly possible.
That thought didn’t last for long.
Miami’s lead after the first quarter was 30-29. The Heat — who shot 68 percent in the first half — outscored the Clippers 63-39 in the next two quarters, turning things into quite a rout.
Crawford and Griffin each finished with 13 points for the Clippers.
NOTES: Miami now has the best home record in the Eastern Conference, with Indiana losing on Friday night at home to Toronto. … Heat F Udonis Haslem passed the 5,000-rebound mark for his career during the game. … The Heat continue their L.A. Story at home on Sunday, playing host to the Los Angeles Lakers. … Clippers F Caron Butler said before the game that he still enjoys playing in Miami, noting it was the Heat who “took a chance” on him coming into the league and it gives him a chance to see the NBA’s “Godfather” in Heat President Pat Riley. … Clippers backup C Ronny Turiaf got his NBA championship ring from the Heat in a brief pregame ceremony. … Billups and Paul combined to shoot 3 for 10.