Heat 111, Clippers 89By Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange | The SportsXchange – Fri, Feb 8, 2013 11:00 PM EST
MIAMI -- The Los Angeles Clippers had their full team for the first time this season, but it wasn't enough as the Miami Heat cruised to a 111-89 victory Friday night. LeBron James led the Heat with 30 points, six assists and five rebounds. It was his fourth straight game with at least 30 points, tying Dwyane Wade's team record. In those four games, James is averaging 31 points on 73-percent shooting. Wade added 20 points and seven assists, and Mario Chalmers had 18 points as the short-handed Heat, playing without two regular members of the rotation, rolled. The Clippers hung with the Heat for the first quarter, trailing 30-29. But the Heat outscored the Clips by 11 in the second quarter and put the game away by outscoring them by 13 in the third. Miami made 53 percent of its shots, including 15 3-pointers. The Heat, leaders of the Eastern Conference, improved to 21-3 at home this season. San Antonio (22-2) is the only NBA team with fewer home losses so far this season. Because of a flu bug that has ripped through the Heat team, Wade missed the morning shoot-around but still played in the game. James is battling a cough, and Chris Bosh and Ray Allen missed the game. Even so, James had another stellar game and passed Sherman Douglas for fourth place on the Heat's career assists chart. Heat forward Chris "Birdman" Andersen didn't put up much in the way of statistics -- eight points and four rebounds -- but he celebrated the fact that Miami picked up his contract for the rest of the season. The Clippers, meanwhile, which had won two straight over the Heat, including earlier this season, are winless in Miami since March 10, 2008. Apparently, it is going to take the Clippers some time to come together. Point guard Chris Paul, who missed the past nine games due to a bruised right kneecap, had three points and two assists. Other Clippers who returned were forward Blake Griffin (strained left hamstring), point guard Chauncey Billups (left foot tendonitis) and shooting guard Jamal Crawford (sore right shoulder). Griffin had 13 points and five rebounds; Billups had seven points and four assists, and Crawford had 13 points and three assists. In addition, Paul and Griffin -- both clearly frustrated by their team's play -- were hit with technical fouls. Notes: Chalmers left the game midway through the first quarter due to a lower-back strain but returned in the second quarter. ... Bosh missed his second straight game due to the flu. Allen is the latest flu-bug victim, missing the game. ... Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro has noticed a trend with James. "He's going to the post a little more than before," Del Negro said before Friday's game. "There are just so many ways he can put pressure on you." ... Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe is one of six NBA players invited to compete in the dunk contest on All-Star weekend in Houston. Del Negro said Bledsoe has done a good job this season when he has had to fill in at point guard. "He has picked his spots on when to be aggressive," the coach said. "He plays the passing lanes as well as anybody on defense. The experience he got will hopefully make us stronger down the stretch once we get fully healthy." ... The Clippers' six-game road trip continues Sunday with a game against the Knicks and ends Monday in Philadelphia. ... The Heat plays host to the Lakers on Sunday.
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