NBA: Heat stave off Clippers in back-and-forth tilt
Bam Adebayo scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Jimmy Butler scored 26 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the floor and the Miami Heat handed the visiting Los Angeles Clippers their second loss in as many nights, 115-110 on Thursday.
Butler’s brilliant shooting night kicked into overdrive down the stretch, as Miami’s season-long leading scorer connected on three successive jumpers in the final 2:43 to help keep Los Angeles at bay.
“We gave Jimmy the ball,” Adebayo said. “He’s our closer so we let him do his thing down the stretch.”
Adebayo, a 25-year-old center and member of last year’s US Olympic gold medal team, was a major reason Miami outscored the Clippers in the paint 58-32.
“Teammates want me to be assertive,” Adebayo said. “They want me to look for my shots. The biggest thing I can do is keep shooting.”
The Heat snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 12-14 overall, 10th in the Eastern Conference.
“Trying to dig ourselves out of a hole,” Adebayo said. “The biggest thing is we stand connected, stand together and keep waking up trying. We wake up and try to find solutions every day.”
Thursday’s contest was a back-and-forth affair much of the way, with the Heat rallying from an eight-point deficit after the first quarter to take a two-point advantage into intermission.
The Clippers — playing the second leg of a back-to-back, one night removed from coughing up an 18-point lead in their overtime loss Wednesday to Orlando — regained control heading into the fourth quarter.
A 14-5 run midway through the final period gave Miami control for good. Four Heat players scored during the decisive stretch, capped with a Tyler Herro 3-pointer to push the lead to seven points.
Bam just weaved his way right to the rim pic.twitter.com/LdQYOvoATE
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 9, 2022
Herro finished with 19 points, while Caleb Martin added 17. Victor Oladipo scored six points off the bench — four in the fourth quarter — in just his second game of the 2022-23 season.
Oladipo contributed to the key run with an assist to Dewayne Dedmon, who finished with six points off the bench.
Paul George led Los Angeles with 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. He kept the Clippers within striking distance late, hitting a 3-pointer and a layup in consecutive possessions to pull the visitors to within a single possession in the final minute.
Los Angeles could not fully bridge the gap, however.
Reggie Jackson connected on 4 of 6 from 3-point range en route to 20 points. No other Clipper scored more than 11 points, and Los Angeles dropped its sixth straight game in which it scored 112 points or fewer. The Clippers won the other five games in that period dating to Nov. 19, scoring more than 112 in each.
Kawhi Leonard missed Thursday’s game for management purposes as he continues to work back into form returning from injury.