Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James scored 39 points but "only" shot 58.3 percent in a Heat win over the Thunder. Out in Los Angeles, the Clippers destroyed the Lakers thanks to a barrage of three-point shooting.
Heat 110, Thunder 100
With his NBA-record six straight games with 30 or more points on at least 60 percent shooting on the line, LeBron James raised up for a 30-footer in the final minutes of the Miami Heat's 110-100 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. The way James has been shooting of late, it almost felt destined to go in.
While the shot clanked off the rim and the streak ended, James could not be too disappointed with a performance of 39 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. He "only" shot 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) and made 4-of-8 three-pointers to lead the Heat to their second victory over the Thunder this season.
Miami (36-14) dominated from the outset, with James controlling the play early on both ends of the floor. The reigning MVP scored 11 points in the first quarter, while his counterpart in Kevin Durant missed his first seven shots and took a hard fall on his shoulder. Durant did rebound to finish with 40 points of his own on 12-of-24 shooting and 15-of-15 from the line, but his poor start helped doom Oklahoma City (39-14).
The Heat led by as much as 18 in the first half and extended it out to 23 in the third quarter before the Thunder finally began to close the gap. However, Oklahoma City never got closer than eight points in the fourth as James delivered dagger after dagger.
Chris Bosh also stepped up big for Miami, scoring 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting and pulling down 12 rebounds. Bosh was especially huge on the offensive glass, pulling down five of the Heat's 13 offensive rebounds. Miami won the rebounding battle, 46-35.
Russell Westbrook helped keep the Thunder somewhat close early, and he finished with 26 points and 10 assists for the game. However, he shot only 7-of-19 and turned the ball over six times. Oklahoma City got little production from anybody else, with Kevin Martin scoring just nine points and Serge Ibaka putting in six.
Clippers 125, Lakers 101
Griffin scored 10 of his 22 points as the Clippers (39-17) raced out to a 15-0 lead before most people could even catch their breath. And when the Lakers (25-29) made it a game again late in the first half, Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups said enough was enough. The two combined for 14 points in the final 3:19 of the half, and Matt Barnes hit a three in the final seconds before the break to give the Clippers a 64-52 lead.
The Clippers then ran the Lakers out of the building in the third quarter with a three-point barrage led by Billups. The veteran knocked down three triples in the quarter and, fittingly, Paul buried a three at the horn to give the Clippers a 21-point lead heading into the final frame. From there, it was a cake walk.
Paul led the Clippers with 24 points and 13 assists while also shutting down Steve Nash on the other end. Billups had 21 points in just 16 minutes, knocking down 5-of-7 from downtown. The Clippers shot 51.7 percent from the field overall and made 16-of-30 three-pointers.
For the Lakers, it was just another embarrassing performance in a season full of them. Kobe Bryant did have 20 points and 11 assists and Antawn Jamison provided a spark with 17 points off the bench, but they simply could not get any defensive stops. That has been a problem all year, and will likely continue to be as long as Dwight Howard is in his limited state. Howard did have 18 points and eight rebounds, but was pretty much a non-factor on defense.