Chris Paul and LeBron James went at it throughout Wednesday night's matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat, though one finished strong while the other -- and his team -- struggled down the stretch. LeBron connected on just one of six field goal attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime, missing two clutch free throws near the end of regulation that could have given Miami the lead and, perhaps, the win.
Instead, the Clippers hung on down the stretch, thanks to Miami's cold shooting and a strong finish, to down the Heat at Staples Center, 95-89.
Chauncey Billups gave the Clippers the lead with 27 seconds to go, drawing a foul on a three-point attempt that left LeBron James speechless. All three free throws were true and Los Angeles an 86-85 lead.
James had multiple chances to tie or win it near the end of regulation, but struggled to convert at the foul line. On the possession following Billups' three free throws, LeBron headed to the line with a chance the tie, only to miss the second half. However, here comes Dwyane Wade!
The incredible save gave LeBron another chance as he drew yet another foul with five seconds to go. But again he struggled, making the first and missing the second; this time Los Angeles corralled the loose ball.
On the other end of the floor, Paul shook James with time winding down, but made one too many moves as time expired just as he was releasing a floater. And with that, the back-and-forth matchup headed to overtime.
The Heat had gone completely cold at the end of regulation and into overtime, failing to make a field goal for a stretch tthat spanned some 12 minutes, ending as Mario Chalmers hit a three to cut the Los Angeles lead to one in overtime. Blake Griffin immediately answered, though, coming back with a lay-in on the other end to put the Clippers back up by three.
Off a set play on the inbounds, Chalmers got loose again, but this time his three was off the mark, with Griffin gathering the rebound. As Miami tried to foul on the ensuing possession, Billups dribbled out of trouble, finding Chris Paul who passed to a wide-open DeAndre Jordan for the dunk.
To add insult to injury, Erik Spoelstra was sent to the showers early after exploding on the officials -- apparently upset about the non-call as Miami attempted to foul before Jordan's dunk. Caron Butler's free throw for the tech was good, and the Clippers sealed the 95-89 win.
Paul finished with 27 points and 11 assists, notching game-highs in each category. James had a double-double in the loss, scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.