Five takeaways from the Miami Heat’s 102-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, gets a rebound in front of Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Miami. The Clippers defeated the Heat 102-98. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, left, gets a rebound in front of Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in Miami. The Clippers defeated the Heat 102-98. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI —  After two wins to begin the season-long six-game homestand, the Heat faced one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

Miami (9-18) came close, but it didn’t pass the test.

The Clippers (20-7) defeated the Heat 102-98 on Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami is now 2-1 on the homestand.

It took just one bad quarter for the Clippers to gain some separation on their way to the win. Miami struggled to score in the second quarter and Los Angles took advantage to enter halftime with a 60-46 lead.

Even though the Heat outscored the Clippers 52-42 in the second half, they could never overcome their second-quarter drought. And Miami could never overcome 16-of-25 shooting at the free-throw line.

“Terrific second half, but against a team that’s a championship caliber team you have to play 48 minutes of basketball and we weren’t able to do that,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We had some chances in the fourth quarter. It’s tough.”

Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Chris Paul helped out with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists.

Wayne Ellington left the game in the second half after suffering a mild right hamstring strain.

Here are our five takeaways from the game …

1. Heat’s late-game execution improving: Miami lost, but it was impressive down the stretch against one of the best teams in the NBA. That’s progress for a Heat team that entered Friday’s game ranked 25th with a net rating of -17.6 in clutch situations this season. The NBA defines a clutch situation as a game that has a margin of five points or fewer inside the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. On Friday, Miami took Los Angeles down to the wire. Down by 10 entering the fourth quarter, the Heat cut it to one with 10 seconds left. Miami outscored Los Angeles 15-10 over the final five minutes of the contest.

2. Heat go through another offensive drought: It’s been a problem for the Heat early in the season. And Miami went through another offensive drought in the second quarter Friday. The Heat made 6-of-25 shots (24 percent) in the period and it cost them. Los Angeles outscored Miami 29-19 in the second quarter. This bad stretch came after an efficient first quarter. The Heat shot 54.5 percent and scored 27 points over the first 12 minutes. And the Heat outscored the Clippers in the third and fourth quarters. But one bad period is all it takes, especially against a quality team like the Clippers.

3. DeAndre vs. Hassan: This was the big storyline entering the game. Heat center Hassan Whiteside said Thursday that he does a lot and Clippers center DeAndre Jordan “just catches lobs.” Whiteside clarified those comments before Friday’s game, saying “I would never diss another big fella.” But when the actual game started, both centers had their moments. And when the game finished, both had double-doubles. Whiteside finished with 11 points, 17 rebounds. Jordan finished with 12 points and 19 rebounds. That’s not a surprise from two of the best centers in the NBA.

4. Justise Winslow looked better: It’s going to take some time for Justise Winslow to return to form. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. But Winslow is getting closer. In his second game back from a sprained left wrist, Winslow finished with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting and played important minutes in the fourth quarter.  This performance comes after Winslow made 1-of-5 shots in Wednesday’s win over the Pacers. That inconsistency is expected from the 20-year-old after missing 16 games with the injury. That’s why coach Erik Spoelstra has Winslow coming off the bench for now. With black tape wrapped around his shooting wrist, it’s clear that Winslow is still working through the injury.

“I got in a better rhythm tonight,” Winslow said. “But a lot of it was just defensively. I felt like I was out there helping the team, talking more and helping guys get in the right spots.”

5. Tyler Johnson is kind of important:  The Heat missed their $50 million man. Miami sixth man Tyler Johnson did not play in Friday’s game due to an illness. And without Tyler, Miami’s bench relied on James Johnson. James didn’t disappoint, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes. But James played just five minutes in the first half due to foul trouble. That was tough for the Heat to overcome with Tyler not available. Tyler averages 30.9 minutes of playing time per game and James averages 24.7 minutes of playing time per game. With Tyler out and James in foul trouble, the two combined to log 22 minutes in Friday’s loss. That’s not enough for two of the Heat’s most important players.

[Hassan Whiteside: ‘I would never diss another big fella’]

[Erik Spoelstra remembers getting to know Craig Sager as young NBA scout]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

Reader Comments 0

0 comments