Clippers lose to Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside the big factor

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In an incredible game Saturday, the L.A. Clippers beat the Dallas Mavericks by 20 points, 120 to 100. All five in the starting lineup for L.A. scored in double digits with Blake Griffin getting 22 and Jamal Crawford coming off the bench to score 19. Crawford could easily be considered for the best sixth man award this season, for his great play throughout the season. The Clippers needed all of that Sunday when they met the Miami Heat at Staples Center.

Miami Heat forward-center Chris Anderson
Miami Heat forward-center Chris Anderson

Miami is having a tough season so far, but they still have many of the key players from their championship teams. starting with Chris Bosch and Dwyane Wade, who, combined, scored 41 of the Heat’s 83 points in their loss to Portland on Thursday.

With the momentum from Saturday’s win over the Mavs, the Clippers could have won back-to-back games over the weekend, and three in a row.

But the Clippers didn’t get that same fire and intensity on Sunday. Something happened in the first quarter of Sunday’s game that changed the momentum from the L.A. Clippers to the Miami Heat.

The Clippers started their early afternoon game well, jumping out to a 19 to 6 lead, with three pointers by J.J. Redick and Chris Paul.

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside
Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside

But then Miami center Chris Anderson was replaced by Hassan Whiteside and the game became a rout by the visiting team. The walk-on free agent for the Heat scored a career high 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, five offensive and 11 defensive rebounds.

After the game Clippers forward Blake Griffin said, of Whiteside, “He played extremely well. His efficiency was great. He was the biggest difference in the game.”

L.A. never got back into a position to overtake the Heat, coming within six points once during the rest of the game. At the end of the first half Miami was leading L.A. by nine points, 62-53. At the end of three the Heat was ahead by ten.

The Clippers just stopped asserting themselves in the game, they stopped being aggressive. The starting lineup grabbed 20 rebounds, but the bench only had seven. Miami’s starters grabbed 19 rebounds, but their bench, with Whiteside’s 16, had 27. That’s the big stat in Sunday’s game: the Clippers were out rebounded, 46 to 27.

Miami Heat center Chris Bosch
Miami Heat center Chris Bosch

The Clippers’ defense was almost non-existent most of the game. L.A. had four steals and Miami had eight. It was just a poor performance by L.A. and a great performance by Whiteside and the Heat. Miami center Chris Bosch led all scoring with 34 points, Dwyane Wade had 17 and Luol Deng added 10 to Whiteside’s 23 points.

For the Clippers, Blake Griffin had 26 points, Chris Paul had 23 and J..J. Redick finished with 14. Matt Barnes had only eight points and Jamal Crawford four, despite playing 22 minutes.

The final score was 104-90.

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It doesn’t get any easier for the Clippers. Next up will be the Portland Trailblazers, the team with the second best record in the Western Conference. And it will be in Portland Wednesday Night.

 (All photos by Claudia Gestro)