Rapid Reaction: Heat 102, Clippers 97

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
7:11
PM PT
MIAMI -- The Los Angeles Clippers talked about being lackadaisical and playing casually Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. They admitted they needed to do a better job of getting up for games against teams projected to be in the lottery instead of the playoffs at the end of the season.

That wasn't a problem Thursday as the Clippers traveled south to play the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. There were many reasons the Clippers lost to the Heat 102-97, but for the first time this season they couldn't lean on the "we didn't play hard enough" excuse.

Quite frankly, six games into the season and sitting at 3-3, the Clippers simply aren't good enough.

Maybe they will be at some point during the course of the season, but the Clippers have a long way to go as a team and on defense before they can think about returning to Miami in June for a potential rematch against the Heat in the NBA Finals, as many predicted before the season started.

How it happened: The Clippers and Heat were tied at 73-73 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter before Chris Anderson completed a 3-point play that gave the Heat the momentum they wouldn't relinquish going into the final period. Miami went up by as many as 11 points and controlled the tempo, making 53.5 percent of its shots.

What it means: They might be a great team on paper, but the paper also shows the Clippers are a .500 team six games into the season heading into a tough road game against the Houston Rockets on Saturday. The Clippers knew there would be a learning curve at the start of the season with a new coaching staff and half their roster revamped, but no one thought they could possibly be below .500 in November.

Hits: Blake Griffin had his fourth 20-10 game in his past five games, finishing with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Griffin was also 4-for-5 from the free throw line as he continues to improve there.

DeAndre Jordan had his moments on defense and finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and two steals.

Misses: Jared Dudley finished with two points on 1-of-5 shooting and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

The Clippers missed Matt Barnes for the second straight game with a right thigh bruise, and his absence had a domino effect throughout the second unit, which had to rely on Willie Green and Byron Mullens off the bench. In fact, coach Doc Rivers went with only four players off the bench against the Heat. The Clippers are hoping to get Barnes back next week.

Stat of the game: 19 turnovers. It might not be the most glaring stat, but it's the first one Chris Paul will notice after the game, when he looks at the five he contributed to that total. Turnovers will happen during the course of a game, but that total is too high for Paul and this team.

Up next: The Clippers will spend the night in South Beach and leave late Friday for Houston. That game will be a rematch of Monday's game in Los Angeles, which the Clippers won 137-118. Paul had 23 points and 17 assists, while Dwight Howard struggled in his first game back in Los Angeles, finishing with 13 points and nine rebounds after getting in early foul trouble.

Arash Markazi

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Blake Griffin
PTS AST STL MIN
22.7 5.0 1.0 35.5
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Jordan 13.3
AssistsC. Paul 9.7
StealsC. Paul 1.9
BlocksD. Jordan 2.4