LOS ANGELES — Sunday’s afternoon matchup at STAPLES Center featured a battle of behemoths as DeAndre Jordan set the tone early, leading the L.A. Clippers past Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat, 98-86. Jordan had seven first quarter rebounds, laying claim to the paint from the opening tip.
Whiteside – relied on to make an impact on both sides of the floor – was largely held in check Sunday. He finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but was a minus-16 on the floor. Miami got a nice boost off the bench from Tyler Johnson‘s 12 points. Goran Dragic led the way with 24 points.
“We have been watching film and emphasizing on getting back to limiting teams to just one shot per possession,” Jordan said about the team’s defense. “Also,we are trying to be more physical, not letting guys catch the ball where they want to and connecting the dots in their offense. At the end of the day, coming down with a rebound, and not giving up second chance or easy transition points.”
The first 12 minutes of action was very much a back-and-forth affair as the Clippers led 20-19 at the end of the first. Dragic led Miami with 5 points and 1 rebound, while Redick had 7 points and 3 rebounds for L.A. The Clippers led by as many as eight points in the period, but managed to score just two points in the final five minutes of the quarter.
The Clippers’ defense started rolling in the second quarter, though, ultimately holding Miami to just 31 percent from the field in the half.
The second half started with DJ attacking Whiteside down low. Jordan got the ball in the post against Whiteside and made his first move immediately. Whiteside got the foul call and clearly looked frustrated.
“I was getting adjusted out there,” Whiteside said. “I missed a couple of shots that I normally make in the beginning, but I had to get back to the flow of things and communicating with the team and just get back out there.”
The next few possessions – thanks to the early action in the paint – saw the floor open up, with J.J. Redick getting open for a couple three-pointers to push the lead up to 22 with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Johnson brought them back to within 15 points with about three minutes remaining in the quarter, and to 10 with a couple minutes remaining, but the outcome never seemed to be in question.
— Alonzo Bodden (@AlonzoBodden) January 8, 2017
Waiters given a flagrant 2, ejected for an elbow to the back of Redick’s head as Redick boxed him out
— Rowan Kavner (@RowanKavner) January 8, 2017
Flagrant 2 for Waiters – ejected with 3:09 remaining in the third. Clippers up 71-56 after a couple of Redick FTs.
— Rohit Ghosh [Ro] (@RohitGhosh) January 8, 2017
Dion Waiters gone with the flagrant 2 — elbow above the shoulders to Redick. Not sure it deserved a two.
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) January 8, 2017
The Clippers led 80-66 after the third quarter.
The fourth quarter opened with both sides trading baskets for a couple minutes before the Clippers really put the foot on the gas. A Marreese Speights three-pointer, assisted by Paul, put the Clippers up 85-68.
“We had a rough stretch, but I feel like we’re getting back to defending,” Jordan said. “I feel like we’re rebounding the ball, as a team, better. We are just playing good team basketball. We’re moving the ball around, finding the open man and playing the right way.”
The Clippers next play Wednesday when they host the Orlando Magic.