DeAndre Jordan leads Clippers over Heat
It is amazing the difference four letters can make - that is if they spell the word Paul.
Chris Paul, in his first game of the preseason, was a difference maker in the Clippers 99-89 win over the Miami Heat in their finale of a two-game series vs. the defending champions in China.
Paul played just 22 minutes and tallied 4 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists as the Clippers trailed for just 3:36 of the game with LA erasing a two-point Miami lead with a 22-10 run to close the first quarter. Miami would get no closer than six the rest of the way in the 10-point win, a score that did not tell illustrate how much the Clippers were in charge right from the opening tip.
The defense was much improved, holding the Heat to 40 percent shooting for the game, while Los Angeles also controlled the boards, 49-36, with Blake Griffin leading the way with 10. Josh Harrellson led Miami with six.
Activity and defense gave the Clippers opportunity after opportunity for easy scores. The Paul-DeAndre Jordan connection picked up where it left off from last year as DJ was 8-for-8 from the field, finishing with a game-high 18 points and 9 rebounds. If Jordan can consistently contribute on the offensive side of the ball, the Clippers will boast one of the best front courts in the game with Jordan joining the superstar Griffin at the four and the consistent Caron Butler at the three.
The bench - an area of weakness for the Clippers a year ago - contributed as well with four players (Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe and Grant Hill) all scoring at least eight points, led by Crawford's 15. Lamar Odom flashed some of his all-around game with four points, two rebounds and three assists.
The Clippers continued to struggle with the turnovers, however, with 23, though only seven from their starting five.
The team went directly from the win at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai to the airport for a 14-hour return flight home to Los Angeles. The Clippers will have an off day Monday, return to practice on Tuesday and then host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday at Staples Center.
For a team with so many new players, this amazing cultural experience helped the new teammates bond and open everyone's eyes to a great people and country.