The Miami Heat squeeze past the Los Angeles Clippers, 104-101

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 5: Hassan Whiteside
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 5: Hassan Whiteside /

The Miami Heat regrouped after a tough loss in Denver, delivering an 104-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Playing without starting guard Dion Waiters, who was back in Miami due to the birth of his daughter, the Miami Heat got off to a good start against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Scoring 62 points in the first half and leading by as many as 19 going into the second, Justise Winslow replaced Waiters in the starting lineup. However, he was limited to 17 minutes of action, committing two fouls early in the first quarter and ending with five on the night.

Billed as a battle between big men Hassan Whiteside and DeAndre Jordan, the Heat’s starting center won out. He scored 21 points on 9-for-16 shooting from the field, including a handful of mid-range jumpers from the top of the key.

Earning his second start of the season, Okaro White provided a boost on defense, stifling the Clippers’ production early on. At 6-foot-8, the athletic White often found himself switching on screens between covering any combination of Patrick Beverly, Blake Griffin or Jordan. Adding a level of fluidity to the Heat’s defensive schemes.

The biggest change to the Heat’s game plan was limiting the number of turnovers against Los Angeles. Whereas Miami committed 23 turnovers against Denver leading to 25 points, Miami limited themselves to 16 on Sunday. Maybe not a stellar decrease, but enough to keep the early game flow in their favor.

Before the game, head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke highly of Goran Dragic’s contributions to this Heat team.

"“Goran is one of those rare players in this league you can absolutely book every night with him what you’re going to get, and that’s going to be around 20 points, around seven assists, a few rebounds and a bunch of hustle plays,” said Spoelstra before the match up in Los Angeles. He continued, “And that’s the thing you love about Goran.”"

That said, foul trouble strained the Heat’s rotations. In addition to Winslow’s five fouls, Dragic racked up his fourth foul just three minutes into the third quarter, limiting his contributions to 12 points on the night.

Panic ensued when the Heat began the fourth, shooting 0-for-9, allowing the Clippers to erase a once 20 plus point lead. The total momentum shift led by Beverly’s defensive tenacity, exposed Miami’s youth just as a lid on the basket hampered Miami’s late game scoring. The Heat managed only 15 points in the fourth, compared to 34, 28 and 27 in the first three quarters respectively. Sloppy play towards the end, including a turnover on an outlet pass by Whiteside, kept the Clippers’ hopes up. But fortunately, the Heat were bailed out by two missed free throws by Austin Rivers late in the game.

On a positive note, Heat guards Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington seemed to get their grooves back, dropping 19 and 17 points respectively. Johnson played key minutes down the stretch as Dragic struggled with foul trouble.

Next: Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic getting outshined by team's troubles

The Heat don’t have much time to relish in the victory sadly, as they will suit up again on Monday, November 6 against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland.