NBA teams usually don’t get to hang around another city for four days in the regular season.
Needless to say, the Miami Heat is happy to be leaving La La Land. It’s been a rough stay.
Less than 48 hours after the Lakers handed Miami its second-worst loss of the season, the Clippers sent the Heat on its way to Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors with another crushing 98-86 defeat at the Staples Center.
Goran Dragic led Miami with 24 points, five rebounds and five assists, and Hassan Whiteside, playing for the first time since he was poked in his right eye in Boston on Dec. 30, posted his 25th double-double and first since Dec. 23 with 15 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in 31 minutes.
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But it was hardly enough to contain the Clippers backcourt of Chris Paul and JJ Redick, who helped L.A. (26-14) build a 24-point lead in the fourth quarter and ate the Heat (11-28) up late in the first half coming off screens and hitting jumpers.
Redick finished with 25 points including four three-pointers. Paul had 19 points and 18 assists, and Dion Jordan finished with seven points, 18 rebounds and a block.
“It just shows what a player can do when he's dedicated to being in the best shape he can possibly be in, has a great motor and is relentless,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who spent an hour at practice Saturday with his team working on pick-and-roll defense in a training-camp like setting after it gave up a season-high 68 points in the paint in Friday’s loss to the Lakers.
“[Redick] runs those routes every single time like it’s his last and most important route, and most of the time he’s not getting the ball. But you have to do it over and over and over, and just the time you relax is when he comes off the screen and he’s wide open. Those are tough shots. That’s a dying breed in this league, guys that can come off screens full speed, catch, shoot from 20 to 24 feet.”
After giving up a season-high 127 points in regulation Friday, the Heat held the Clippers to 41.9 percent shooting and only 34 points in the paint.
But Miami shot only 36.9 percent from the field. It’s the ninth time this season the Heat has shot under 40 percent. Miami is 1-8 in those games.
There was at least one similarity between Friday’s blowout loss and Sunday’s. After Dragic was head-scratchingly ejected late in the third quarter following an altercation with the Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, Dion Waiters got the heave-ho for the first time in his career Sunday with 3:02 to play in the third quarter.
Waiters drew a Flagrant 2 foul for elbowing JJ Redick in the back of the head as the two were jostling for rebounding position near the basket.
The Heat was also hit with three technical fouls in the loss. One by Spoelstra, one by Dragic and one by James Johnson. All came in the second half.
“We were playing physical,” Spoelstra said. “So, it was a heated game. You know, we disagreed on some of those [calls]. Those [referees] were some of the younger guys. I didn’t have a chance to look at Dion's play to deem whether it was an ejection or not. I’ve been down that road before. I don’t know if I will go down that road again.”
Whiteside scored his first basket on a putback with 7:58 to play in the first half and had a team-high seven points, eight rebounds and a block by the break.
Spoelstra said he thought Whiteside lacked a little rhythm in his first game back.
“It took me a little bit to get back adjusted, to the speed,” Whiteside said. “But I feel like overall I played pretty good.
“I’m getting more adjusted out there. I missed a couple shots I normally make in the beginning. But I just had to get used to the flow of things, communicate with the team and just get back out there.”
After Dragic hit a pair of free throws to trim Miami’s deficit to 36-31 with 4:57 left in the second quarter, the Clippers went on an 11-1 run behind Redick and Paul and took a 52-39 lead into the half. While the Heat shot a ghastly 31 percent in the first half, Redick and Paul couldn’t miss, combining to shoot 11-of-17 from the field for 26 points.
The Clippers eventually expanded that lead to 24 points in the fourth quarter.
“The biggest issue was just Chris Paul facilitating, JJ Redick coming off picks,” Whiteside said. “I don't remember him missing too often. He was making a lot of tough shots. He really was hurting us.”
▪ Forward Luke Babbitt missed Sunday’s game with the flu.