Postgame thoughts: 1/11 win over Miami

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
1:34
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- Here are a number of items of note from the Los Angeles Clippers' dramatic 95-89 overtime win over the Miami Heat on Wednesday at the Staples Center:

An aggressive Paul

One night after his worst performance as a Clipper in a 105-97 road loss to Portland, point guard Chris Paul rebounded for his best. The seven-year veteran was on his game from start to finish, leading all players in points (27) and assists (11) and playing a game-high 45 minutes. He had one turnover all game, and it came in the overtime period.

It was clear he was going to have a different type of night from the get-go. He had eight points, three assists and three rebounds in the first quarter as he consistently attempted to take his own shot and not deliver ones to others.

"I tried to be aggressive tonight," Paul said. "I didn't feel like I was in Portland."

Part of it was, of course, Miami's defensive approach. Paul always says he takes what the defense gives him. They gave him areas in which to penetrate, not passing lanes to deliver the ball into -- and so he attacked the basket all game.

His 21 shots were more than any Miami player's total and only two behind Blake Griffin's 9-of-23 night. Paul has only come within six shot attempts of Griffin on two other occasions this season.

"I was pleased to see Chris be more aggressive offensively, which we need him to be," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Wednesday.

A playoff atmosphere

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said it, but did it vibe with what was actually present on the court?

"That was great, compelling playoff basketball in early January," the Heat coach said.

Compelling, certainly. But great, not so much. The teams combined to shoot just over 40 percent from the field. But the crowd was lively throughout, and it did remind many of the Clippers' last playoff trip in 2006.

"The level was definitely raised a little bit," Griffin said. "Both teams were coming off a back-to-back, so I think we were tired. But the intensity was as high as it should be."

Lucky or unlucky

A lot of the errors came at the free-throw line, where the Heat shot just 59 percent (20-of-34). Star LeBron James was responsible for eight of those 14 misses, including two key ones down the stretch that could have given Miami the win.

"I didn't shoot the ball particularly well from the free-throw line," James said. "I split some and I missed two some. So I put a lot of the free throws on me. I need to concentrate a little more at the free-throw line and knock them down and we'll be fine."

Interestingly, Griffin said the Clippers weren't "lucky" that James missed the free throws. He said it was a normal part of the game. But center DeAndre Jordan said they were lucky. Told then that Griffin had said the opposite, Jordan jokingly deferred to his friend and the team's star forward.

Jordan and Evans

Jordan didn't do much offensively, but he did record six blocks and also rebound fairly well. His coaches and teammates were complementary of his performance.

"It's not only the blocks," Del Negro said. "It's the altering of shots, the knowing he's back there."

Likewise, forward Reggie Evans didn't score a point in 21 minutes, but his eight rebounds and energetic defensive play were also important to the victory.

"I think Reggie really set the tone on the defensive end," Paul said. "When he comes in the game and guys see how hard he's playing, you have no choice but to play hard."

Not much Mo

It's interesting that, in the Clippers' longest game of the 2011-2012 thus far, reserve guard Mo Williams played the fewest minutes he had all year. The 6-1 point guard played just 21 minutes in Wednesday's win, exactly the same as newly-signed forward Reggie Evans, and about half as many as Chauncey Billups and Paul.

But he was the only player other than Griffin and Paul to score in the first 21 minutes of the game, as nobody else got on the board until Caron Butler's free throws with three minutes remaining in the first half.

No more meetings

One of the byproducts of the shortened season this year is fewer Eastern-Western matchups, and nowhere is that more noticeable than with the Clippers and Heat.

Despite the fierceness of the teams' matchup Wednesday, they will not face each other again all season. Their only possible meeting would be in June, in the NBA Finals.

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