Clippers learn their place in 102-97 loss to Heat


MIAMI — It was a simple statement by Clippers Coach Doc Rivers that told the story about why his team lost, 102-97, to the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Thursday night.

"They're better than us right now," Rivers conceded. "They are. But we're going to work on that. That's what this season is for. You keep working. We knew before the year they were better.

"By the way, they've won back-to-back titles. So our job is to keep getting better and by the end of the year, see if we can catch them. And that's the key for us."

Rivers talked about how the Clippers "dictated the pace" in the first half at AmericanAirlines Arena even though they were playing on consecutive nights.

That led to the Clippers running more, resulting in 17 fastbreak points to Miami's two. At halftime, the Clippers led, 56-52.

But Rivers said the Clippers "lost the pace of the game" in the second half and that helped the Heat set its defense and slow the game down.

By not keeping up the pace, the Clippers had just two fastbreak points in the second half, the same as Miami.

The Heat outscored the Clippers, 50-41, in the second half, and at one point opened an 11-point lead.

Then there were the ballhandling problems by the Clippers. They turned the ball over 19 times, leading to 24 points for the Heat.

Chris Paul had five of the turnovers. Often, he was trapped by the Heat and waited too late to make a pass.

"I've got to do a better job against those traps," Paul said. "I've got to give the ball up and let other guys make plays."

"I thought he got a little defiant," Rivers said about Paul. "He wanted to beat the traps tonight. That's a lesson learned for all of us. ... I thought he got competitive."

Paul was asked to respond to Rivers' comments about being defiant.

"You tell me," Paul said. "I don't know. I just played a bad game."

Paul had 11 points, but he missed eight of 11 shots, including all three of his three-pointers. He did have 12 assists.

Blake Griffin was the best player for the Clippers. He had 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting and 14 rebounds.

"Blake was terrific," Rivers said. "He did everything. He rebounded, defended LeBron [James], the best of all of our guys [in the NBA]."

Griffin did spend some time on James, who had 18 points, five rebounds and six assists.

Dwyane Wade is the one who torched the Clippers, scoring 29 points and handing out seven assists.

"A game like this, you know [the Heat is] going to come out and execute," Griffin said. "They've been together for four years now. They are going to play tough defense. It's about running our game plan."

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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