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Clippers Squelch Heat in Overtime

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Photo by Paul!!! via Flickr
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On Jan. 12, 2011, the Clippers upset the might Miami Heat 111-105 breaking the Heat’s 13-game road winning streak. The Clippers were an upstart team that lacked the experience to be taken seriously. Fast forward one year, there were questions as to how the Clippers would respond now that they have been anointed as contenders. It turned out the Clippers proved their mettle in their 95-89 overtime win over the Miami Heat.

“Although we’ve been developing on the fly, we’re a pretty good team,” Caron Butler told Prime Ticket’s Dain Blanton after the game on the telecast.

The “developing” part of Butler’s comment was evident as the Clippers’ half-court offense closely resembled a victim of spinal cord injury trying to walk for the first during rehab. Despite having one of the best post players in the league with Blake Griffin, it was a rare moment when they worked the ball into the paint settling for jump shot after jump shot that refused to go in. In fact Griffin took ten shots from outside the paint missing on all but two of them.

But they hunkered down withstanding a five-point Heat lead at halftime. Chris Paul took over the third quarter scoring 11 points and connecting on five assists alone in those 12 minutes to give the Clips the one-point edge heading into the fourth quarter. Even Butler, who was silent in the first half with only two points, exploded with ten points making both three-point attempts.

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The game wasn’t pretty. Transition chances were nearly nonexistent for both teams, and the Heat clanked free throws like it was the NBA Finals making 9-of-16 (56.3%). To be fair, LeBron James did score eight of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. Although he only went 1-of-3.

Nevertheless overtime was essentially decided in the opening two minutes when Caron Butler and DeAndre Jordan hit their shots while Dwyane Wade missed his. Of course there was the Clippers up three out-passing the fouling Heat (Chauncey Billups to Chris Paul who with three Heat players trying to foul him dishes the ball to Jordan who dunked it for the five point lead) that got Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra ejected.

It might not have been the prettiest basketball to watch, but it certainly did have the look and feel of a playoff game which is foreign territory for the Clippers. Meanwhile earlier in the evening the Lakers ventured on the road for a game by the Mormon Tabernacle.

The Lakers have really enjoyed the comforts of STAPLES Center getting all seven of their victories at home. In their fourth road game of the season, the Lakers finally got it done with a 90-87 overtime win against the Utah Jazz.

Looking at the box score Andrew Bynum scored only 12 points and nine points, a pretty shabby stat line if one were to go through it quickly. But the key number was the five blocked shots. Bynum was the big reason the Jazz shot only 39% for the game. Even when his paws weren’t on the ball, Bynum was altering shots giving the Jazz something to think about in the paint.

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But no block was bigger than his final one. With the Lakers clinging on to a one-point lead, Kobe Bryant missed a six-foot jumper with the Jazz’s Josh Howard getting the rebound. The clock ticked down until finally Al Jefferson launched a five-footer. But there was Bynum punching, not slapping, the ball away into Kobe’s hands with 0.07 seconds remaining. The cheers from the Lakers’ fans were heard on the broadcast, Matt Barnes giving the big guy a hug, coach Mike Smith smiling knowing that after Bryant’s free throws the game was done.

It was. After Kobe made his two free throws he got into the block party knocking away Devin Harris’ 32-foot attempt to seal the victory.

Kobe was the Lakers’ offense scoring 40 points on 14-for-31 shooting. His old Phoenix Suns’ nemesis Raja Bell spent most the game trying to defend Kobe, and it really was an exercise in futility causing Bell to get a technical foul after trying to instigate something with Kobe after a play.

And because Pau Gasol disappeared down the stretch save for that three-pointer that finally gave the Lakers the lead in overtime, we’ll only mention that he had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

The win gives the Clippers a 5-3 record a game behind the 8-4 Lakers. As quirky as the NBA schedule has been this season, perhaps none is the strangest as the Clippers having played the fewest games in the league. Well the Clippers will have their next test at home against the visiting Lakers.

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TONIGHT’S ACTION

Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames. 6:30 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 830 KLAA.
Dallas Stars at LA Kings. 7:30 p.m. FSWest, AM 1150 KTLK.

College Basketball
LMU Lions at Pepperdine Waves. 7:00 p.m. ESPNU, 88.9 FM KXLU.
Cal Poly Mustangs at UC Irvine Anteaters. 7:00 p.m.
Pacific Tigers at Cal State Northridge Matadors. 7:05 p.m.
UC Davis Aggies at Long Beach State 49ers. 7:05 p.m.