The defending champion Miami Heat head to the Staples Center Wednesday night for a highly-anticipated matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Heat, the top scoring team in the NBA, are in the fourth game of a six- game road trip. They are 2-1 with a loss at Memphis against the Grizzlies sandwiched between victories over the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets.
The win over Houston came Monday night, but it was only a three-point victory. The Big Three did their part. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 81 points, 26 rebounds and 16 assists.
James, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, scored on a layup with less than 20 seconds to go to give the Heat the comeback victory. He finished with 32 of his 38 points in the second half, which established a new franchise record for most points in a half on the road and matched the team mark for most points in half on the road or at home.
"I guess that's what being a champion is all about," James said after the Rockets' win. "We get everybody's best shot. We found a way to win this one. It was a gutty performance."
Monday's victory was head coach Erik Spoelstra's 200th for the Heat. Only 254 more to go and Spoelstra can catch his mentor, team president Pat Riley.
The Clippers come into Wednesday's game winners of three straight. The Clippers have played five of the first seven on the road, but only traveled once. Technically, their win against the Lakers on Nov. 2 was a road win, but it was played at Staples Center.
The Clippers saw their season-opening streak of scoring 100 points or more end on Sunday in an 89-76 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The six-game streak equaled a club record, but L.A. could easily start another streak on Wednesday.
They rank third in the league in scoring and Miami is in the bottom-third in scoring defense.
The Clippers are third in the NBA in total bench points, sparked by Jamal Crawford and his impressive 20.3 ppg average. Los Angeles is also the only team in the league with six players averaging double-figures.
On Wednesday, it will all be about the Clippers defense. Since allowing massive offensive outpouring in two home losses, the Clippers have held opponents to 83.3 ppg in this three-game winning streak.
"With LeBron (James) and (Dwyane) Wade and Chris (Bosh) you've got three of the top players and everyone else feeds off that," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Then they add Ray (Allen) and Rashard (Lewis) and guys that know how to play with (Shane) Battier and (Mike) Miller, so they're deep and they're champions for a reason. There's not anything they haven't seen."
The Clippers have won three of the last five meetings and four straight over Miami in Los Angeles.