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Clippers-Heat Preview

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After a tremendous scoring surge ended in the opener of their road trip, the Los Angeles Clippers may have a tough time bouncing back against the defending NBA champions.

The Heat have been tough to beat at home, winning 24 of 25 regular-season games in Miami dating to last season.

They're expected to have Chris Bosh back Thursday night when they try for their fifth straight home win against the Clippers.

Los Angeles (3-2) had been riding high under new coach Doc Rivers, averaging 124.3 points and shooting 50.6 percent from the field - including 36 of 90 from 3-point range - during a three-game winning streak.

The Clippers put up their highest point total since 2009 when they outran Houston 137-118 on Monday, but stumbled mightily in a surprising 98-90 loss at Orlando on Wednesday to open this three-game road swing.

They finished with season lows in points, field goal percentage (37.9), 3-point shooting (3 for 19) and assists (20). The lack of offense exposed a defense that is allowing a league-worst 109.6 points per game and ranks near the bottom in field goal (48.3) and 3-point percentages (40.7).

"We win games, we score 100 or whatever points, that's always fool's gold," said Rivers after his club allowed the Magic to shoot 48.8 percent from the field. "Our offense is always fool's gold. You've got to defend to win."

Chris Paul has continued to post big numbers, finishing with 18 points and 10 assists against the Magic for his fifth straight double-double. He's averaging career highs of 24.8 points and 12.6 assists through five games.

Paul, however, hasn't fared well against the Heat (3-2) since LeBron James joined them in the summer of 2010. He's averaging 14.0 points on 39.7-percent shooting against them over that span, including a 3-point effort in a 111-89 loss at Miami last February.

Blake Griffin, who led the Clippers with 23 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday, had 20 and 14 in the other meeting with the Heat - a 107-100 home win on Nov. 14.

Los Angeles is hoping for a quick turnaround against a Miami team seeking its third straight win following a 104-95 victory at Toronto on Tuesday.

With his game-high 35 points, LeBron James became the fifth player in NBA history to score 10 or more in 500 consecutive games. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (787 and 508), Michael Jordan (866), Karl Malone (575) and Moses Malone (526) as the only players to accomplish the feat.

"When I see a stat like that, I'm like `Wow,' because I know the history of the game, I know the guys who paved the way for myself and my teammates," said James, who also had eight rebounds and eight assists.

James, averaging 25.6 points, totaled 60 on 21-of-34 shooting against Los Angeles last season.

After missing Tuesday's contest due to the birth of his daughter, Bosh is expected to return against the Clippers. He's gotten off to a strong start, shooting 59.1 percent and scoring 19.8 per game.

Dwyane Wade, who has at least 20 points in three straight games, has averaged 25.3 and 8.4 assists in seven career home games versus Los Angeles.

The Heat have won four straight at home against the Clippers by an average of 18.8 points.

Tagged: Clippers, Heat, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul

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