Winning in Miami this season is almost a challenge. Doing so after being under 15 in a devastating first quarter by the opponents is even more so. The Los Angeles Clippers (32-14) hit the American Airlines Arena, where the Heat (31-14) had won 20 times in 21 games before this game.
The team of coach Doc Rivers has given a huge show of strength, after the embarrassing defeat to Atlanta, showing, if ever it was necessary, not to be a team of stickers, but to have the highest level of basketball contents. It was the first time for Kawhi Leonard, majestic with a 17-point third quarter, without ever missing a basket. The first triple double in his career has arrived for the Clippers star: 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Kawhi struggled a lot in shooting in the first half (2/11), but, as often happens to him, he found himself ready in the most delicate moment. A champion knows perfectly well when to turn on.
Leonard decisive for the Clippers
In the second half, Kawhi indicated the way to his teammates, dictating the rhythms and intensity on both sides of the field. For him, really crazy baskets. The most important one, a triple at 1’06 “from the siren” for +8 (118-110). For the Clippers, still without Paul George and Patrick Beverley, one of the best ever was Landry Shamet, author of 22 points. Double doubles, however, for Harrell (15 points and 11 rebounds) and Green (14 + 10). A significant figure in the Los Angeles game was represented by 33 team assists on 43 baskets scored.
The Heat played a splendid game, driven by an immense confidence in their own means and a great physicality on the 28 meters. Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic were missing but the offensive game was not particularly affected. The ball moved continuously, taking advantage of the movements from the weak side, and the attacking performance was excellent, especially in the first half. Jimmy Butler, forced to go out in the middle of the fourth period due to a sprained right ankle, closed with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, while Bam Adebayo added 18 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds for Miami; there was also the seasonal debut of Dion Waiters, after having undergone three different suspensions. For him 14 points (4/9 from three) in 18 ‘and a super game in the last seconds of the game. A double stop against Lou Williams, concluded by a splendid triple in transition. Welcome back Dion.
Miami started off very strong (24-9) but was unable to take off before the break (65-63). In the third period, the Clippers exponentially raised the level of their game, led by the leadership of Kawhi, and trimmed a 38-20 to their opponents, reaching 101-85. In the last quarter, the Heat tried to accelerate to mend the tear, but first Williams (16 points and 7 assists), the protagonist of a partial 8-0 solitaire, and then Leonard closed all speeches.