Jones had a career-high 31 points -- making eight of 10 shots
from 3-point range -- while Dwyane Wade had 28 points and matched a
career best with 12 assists to help the Miami Heat beat the
Jones hit three 3-pointers in a 2-minute span to end the first
quarter, then made two more late in the third to give Miami a 90-75
lead entering the final period. Over his last four games --
beginning when he wasn't picked for the 3-point contest during
All-Star Weekend -- Jones has hit 23 of 32 shots from behind the
"I've been focused since I got snubbed," Jones said. "I just
want to keep it going. Good players and good basketball teams, in
situations like tonight when you've got the All-Star Game coming
up, rise to the occasion and we did that."
Shaquille O'Neal had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Heat,
who won their seventh straight and sent the Clippers to a seventh
consecutive loss -- all part of their nine-game road trip, the
longest in the league this season. Los Angeles did all they could
to limit O'Neal's touches, but had no answer for Wade or Jones.
"When you are worried about Shaq and defending the post, he's
going to be open," said the Clippers' Elton Brand, who had 18
points and 13 rebounds. "And he knocked down his shots."
Corey Maggette, who was back in the Clippers' starting lineup
for the first time since Jan. 20, had 21 points. All five Los
Angeles starters reached double figures, but couldn't overcome a
53.3 percent shooting performance by the Heat.
"I was pretty happy with that one," said Heat coach Stan Van
Gundy, whose team moved to 40-14.
Miami made nine of its first 12 shots after halftime, opening a
77-57 lead with 5:37 left in the third. The Clippers quickly
answered with an 11-0 run to trim the margin to nine, but Jones'
barrage late in the quarter restored a comfortable Miami cushion
that it maintained through the fourth.
Jones has the classic journeyman-makes-good story. He's been
with eight other NBA franchises in a seven-year career, wasn't
drafted out of Houston in 1997 and has played for clubs like the
IBL's Black Hills Posse, the CBA's Idaho Stampede and the USBL's
He was once a fourth-round pick in the CBA draft. Now, with him
as a starter, Miami is 29-7.
"He played fabulous tonight," O'Neal said. "He shot the ball
well and if he continues shooting like that, we're going to be a
Miami led 55-45 at halftime, thanks to a 21-3 run over a
6-minute stretch midway through the half.
Jones, whose previous high was 25 points, was responsible for
each of Miami's points in an 11-0 run to end the opening quarter.
He hit consecutive 3-pointers from the top of the key, then fed
Wade for an alley-oop dunk and closed the quarter with another
3-pointer to push Miami's lead to 28-20.
Clippers' forward Zeljko Rebraca opened the second quarter with
a three-point play, but the Heat scored the next 10 points for a
38-23 lead. The Clippers never got closer than eight again.
"We let Damon Jones get away from us," Clippers coach Mike
Dunleavy said. "It seemed that whenever we made a run or got
close, he would step up and hit a big 3. He kept banging them down.
... Wade is a terrific player and made some nice plays, but Damon
was the difference in the game."
Alonzo Mourning, who's expected to sign with the Heat before
their first post-All-Star practice in Chicago on Monday, wasn't in
attendance. He's been undergoing a physical for the Heat, who will
have to make a personnel move before signing the seven-time
Van Gundy hasn't decided how to use Mourning. "I'll talk about
it when he's on our team," he said.
Miami had one second-half turnover. ... Miami's Eddie
Jones, who broke a finger in Sunday's win over San Antonio, was
0-for-4 and didn't score. ... The Clippers lost by double figures
for just the 13th time; their previous six losses were by a total
of 20 points. ... Miami is 33-1 when leading after three quarters --
the loss was a double-overtime defeat against the Clippers in
January, a game Wade missed with a migraine. ... Miami's seven-game
winning streak is the second-longest current run in the NBA.
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