Heat-Clippers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 11, 2012
The Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers aren't heading into their much-anticipated matchup quite like they had hoped. With each team seeking to bounce back from a tough road loss, Miami visits Los Angeles on Wednesday night. The Heat (8-2) let a 17-point lead slip away down the stretch before falling 111-106 in overtime at Golden State on Tuesday, ending their three-game winning streak with their first loss in six road games this season. Dwyane Wade didn't seem to feel any ill effects from the bruised left foot that had kept him out of the previous three games, scoring a season-high 34 points. "I did feel like I had a layoff but it was good to get back on the court,'' Wade said. "I just tried to be aggressive early. That's the only way you're going to know how you're feeling. Just came out with an aggressive mindset.'' LeBron James, who missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer in overtime, scored 26 points while adding 11 assists and seven rebounds. James did not have a field goal attempt and scored only one point in the fourth quarter, and Wade missed a jumper that would have won it near the end of regulation. "We got a couple good looks and they just didn't go through,'' James said. The Clippers didn't fare much better Tuesday, seeing their own three-game run snapped with a 105-97 loss at Portland. Chris Paul had only 11 points and three assists while battling foul trouble, and Blake Griffin had 18 points and 12 rebounds but only four points in the second half. The Clippers rallied from an 11-point deficit to pull within three in the final minute, but it wasn't enough. "It started with me,'' Paul said. "I came out and wasn't aggressive enough and got some unfortunate calls that didn't go our way, got in foul trouble. "But in the end we still had a chance, but we came up short.'' Caron Butler, who spent his first two seasons with the Heat from 2002-04, scored 20 points for the second straight game, and Chauncey Billups added 19 in the defeat. Los Angeles (4-3) will be complete its first back-to-back set of the season against a Miami club almost certain to contend for the NBA title. If history plays a role, though, the Clippers may hold the advantage. They've won three straight and eight of the last 10 meetings at Staples Center. Griffin had 24 points and 14 rebounds in Los Angeles' 111-105 home victory over the Heat last Jan. 12, helping the Clippers overcome 31 points from Wade, 27 from James and 26 from Chris Bosh. However, the teams have split their last six games overall, with Wade scoring a game-high 28 points in a 97-79 home victory for Miami on Feb. 6. Wade is averaging 29.0 points in his last 11 games versus the Clippers, while Paul has averaged 17.0 points and 10.7 assists in 11 career games against the Heat.
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