Heat Check: It was a Dwyane Wade night vs. Clippers

MIAMI — Dwyane Wade scored 29 points and took control early in the fourth quarter to lead the Miami Heat to a 102-97 victory Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers in a potential preview of the 2014 NBA Finals.

Wade hit 13 of 22 shots and had 7 assists and 4 rebounds. His 7 turnovers partly were a result of him trying to do too much at times.

Wade’s production was especially important on a night LeBron James (18 points)  struggled to extend his consecutive game double-figure scoring streak to 501 games and Chris Bosh (12 points) got into foul trouble in the second half.

James scored 8 points in the first quarter, then didn’t score until 4:56 remained in the third quarter.

Ray Allen (12 points) and Chris Andersen (10 points, 3 rebounds) both contributed off the Heat (4-2) bench.

Blake Griffin’s 27 points led L.A. (3-3). Clippers point guard Chris Paul had 11 points and struggled shooting 3 of 11).

Before the game, both Wade and James said they expected to see a different Clippers team than the one that lost 98-90 at Orlando on Wednesday night.

They were right, at least for the first half.

In fact, Miami looked like the team playing the second straight night in a back-to-back. The Heat were outrebounded 19-12 and trailed 17-2 in fastbreak points during the first 24 minutes.

Allen hit all four of his first-half shots, including a left-handed drive and a nifty reverse layup. Clippers coach Doc Rivers, Allen’s coach when both were in Boston, might have had flashbacks.

Miami picked up its defense in the third quarter, trapping more, and held Los Angeles to 17 points in the period.

The two teams meet just one more time during the regular season, Feb. 5 at the Staples Center.

The turning point

Wade’s three-point play with 8:53 left in the fourth quarter to give Miami an 88-80 lead. He buried a jumper from the left corner — initially it appeared to be a trey — and was fouled by J.J. Redick.

The difference maker

Wade. He scored 9 of Miami’s first 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Heat opened an eight-point lead. Shane Battier’s 3-pointer made it an 11-point cushion with 7:48 to go.
Stat of the game

The Clippers had 17 fastbreak points in the first half but only 2 in the second half. Part of that might have been the effects of playing two games in two nights, but the Heat also had something to do with it.

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What’s next

The Heat will play the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena 7:30 p.m. Saturday. It will be the second game of a four-game homestead.

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net

or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas