MIAMI -- The Miami Heat capped off the week with a 103-95 Sunday loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Miami went neck and neck with the Clippers’ talented roster but were unable to close out the game in the second half. Heat guard Tyler Herro was downgraded to out, moments before the game, due to a headache.
Why the Heat lost: Clippers star power
The Heat entered the locker room at the half tied at 43. Miami was leading by as many as 11 points in the first half, with quality play off the bench from Caleb Martin and a near double-double from Bam Adebayo with 10 points and eight rebounds. Momentum was on the Heat’s side for much of the first 24 minutes, but a late surge from the Clippers ended that hope.
Los Angeles stars Kawhi Leonard and James Harden took the game in their own hands. Each player carried the team through different stretches en route to a balanced win for the Clippers. Leonard tallied 11 points and five rebounds in the second quarter alone and added 10 points in the third. Harden was the Clippers' main ball handler.
When the game got sloppy on the offensive end for L.A., they slowed the pace down and played through Harden’s playmaking. He finished the night with 21 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. Miami started the matchup with an aggressive defensive stand, but the star power for the Clippers got their spots and found the open man, rather than playing into the Heat’s game.
Highlight of the game: James Harden's and-one three
There was a shift in the Clippers favor at the beginning of the fourth quarter. While L.A. led the entire way in the third, Miami climbed back to take edge in the fourth. The Heat had a taste of lead, but let it slip away with a James Harden and-one 3-pointer.
“From there it became a double-digit game and we were just never able to really claw back into it," Erik Spoelstra said. "At that point when we got down 10, we probably would have needed to knock down some threes, get some relief baskets. We weren’t able to do that and that was pretty much the story in the fourth."
Harden sunk in the four-point play, getting the Clippers bench on their feet. At this moment, Los Angeles took a 75-72 lead and never looked back. They put the pressure on the Heat and eased back on the offensive end, relying on their ability to get to the line.
Quote of the game: Spoelstra speaks on fourth quarter collapse
Spoelstra spoke on the Heat’s defensive identity, emphaiszing the Clippers talent to use their stars and draw fouls. Leonard, Harden and Paul George combined for 14-16 from the line, with 12 of those attempts coming in the fourth quarter.
“I think the game really turned in the fourth quarter when we started fouling," Spoelstra said. "It’s a tough team not to foul. They have professional scorers and professional foul drawers.”
Miami tried to make this a defensive battle, but the Clippers weren’t having it. They dared the Heat to go shot-for-shot with them in the second half and Miami was nonexistent. The Heat ended the night shooting 27.6% from beyond the arc. Miami needs to find some sort of consistency on both ends of the floor in order to spark some momentum. They have now lost eight of the last 10 games.