There are certain moments during every NBA regular season when an individual highlight is etched into the consciousness of the game. On Wednesday night at Staples Center, Dwyane Wade was on the wrong end of one of those moments.
Wade left his feet for a breakaway dunk with 9:57 on the clock in the second quarter but he never made it to the rim. Along the way, Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe met Wade in the air and cleanly rejected Wade’s dunk attempt. On a night Wade would soon like to forget, it was the defining moment of the Heat’s 107-100 loss to the Clippers.
“Dwyane is a great dunker and I didn’t know if I was going to be able to block him or not,” Bledsoe said. “I just tried to get the ball back and ended up blocking him.”
Said Wade, graciously: “Bledsoe is good and he’s coming into his own. They really worked over the summer to make their team deeper and they still got guys out, so this is a good team.”
How good are the Clippers? Consider this: Los Angeles’ starters combined for one point in the fourth quarter and still won easily. Since signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Heat is 0-3 against the Clippers at Staples Center.
Wade, who sprained his left foot on Monday against Houston, did not participate in the Heat’s shootaround on Wednesday morning and had an X-ray on his left foot an hour before the game. In hindsight, maybe he should have sat this one out. He finished with six points in 29 minutes of work. In two of his last three games, Wade has failed to score in double digits.
“I just wanted to try and give it a go and try to do what I could for my team,” Wade said. “I kind of aggravated my foot a little bit but we’ll see how tomorrow goes.”
The Heat plays the Nuggets at 10:30 p.m. at Denver’s Pepsi Center on Thursday night. Wade has never defeated the Nuggets on their court but he might not get a chance to break his 0-8 losing streak. Asked after Wednesday’s game if Wade would play on Thursday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra simply said, “We’ll see.”
Wade injured his thumb on Monday against Memphis and sprained his left foot stepping on Bosh against Houston. His left knee, surgically repaired in the offseason, is still tender. He is averaging 16.7 points per game in eight games. It’s his lowest per-game scoring average since his rookie season (16.2).
“He has been through it all before,” Spoelstra said. “It says a lot that he even wanted to be out there tonight. He’s not 100 percent, but he’ll never tell you that. Hopefully he’ll be able to get healthier. Thankfully, none of his injuries are serious.”
Wade wasn’t the only Heat starter who slugged his way through the Heat’s second loss in three games. Center Bosh finished with nine points. It was an off night for Bosh despite nine rebounds. Combined, Bosh and Wade shot 5 of 23 from the field.
A driving layup by James brought the Heat within two points of the Clippers’ lead with 2:42 to play but Miami would get no closer. Chris Paul scored his team’s final 13 points of the third quarter, which ended with an 11-2 run for Los Angeles.
The Clippers (6-2) outscored the Heat (6-3) 33-20 in the third quarter.
“I know they ended with 100, but our defense in the second half is what got us the win,” said Paul, who finished with 16 points, 10 assists and three turnovers.
The Heat had 19 turnovers with 12 coming Wade, James and Mario Chalmers. James had 30 points, shooting 12 of 23 from the field to go along with five rebounds, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal. The Heat’s starters combined for 11 points in the fourth quarter and James had nine of them.
“The road just gets tougher,” Spoelstra said. “We have not been playing out best basketball, even when we won in Houston. We have another game in less than 24 hours and we just need to get after it, tip it up, and play a better game than we played tonight.”
Ray Allen had 14 points off the bench and Rashard Lewis had 11 but it wasn’t enough to keep up with the Clippers’ reserves, who outscored the Heat’s bench 41-39. Jamal Crawford had 22 points on 7 of 11 shooting and Bledsoe had 12 points, going 5 of 8 from the field.