Published February 08, 2013
| Sports Network
Miami, FL – The Los Angeles Clippers had their starting core together for the first time in more than two months, and the lack of court time together showed.
LeBron James and the Miami Heat spoiled the return to action for Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups, with the reigning NBA MVP racking up 30 points in just 31 minutes to lead the defending champions to a 111-89 rout of the struggling Clippers at American Airlines Arena.
James added six assists while going 9-of-11 from the field and 4-of-5 from 3- point range, while Dwyane Wade shook off a flu bug to record 20 points and seven assists in a game the Heat dominated from the second quarter on.
Wade was questionable to play in the contest due to the illness, which rendered both All-Star center Chris Bosh and top bench option Ray Allen inactive.
Neither was needed in this one, however, as Miami made 52.9 percent of its field goal attempts and knocked down 15 shots from beyond the arc en route to a fourth straight win -- with James putting up at least 30 points in each of those victories.
"Every year it seems like he does the amazing," said Wade of James. "He is on a streak right now that is awesome and I love it. We would love for him to continue to do that, but one day he is going to shoot just 50 percent. We will take it."
Mario Chalmers accounted for five of the Heat's triples in an 18-point effort, with Shane Battier hitting four on five tries while finishing with 12 points.
Paul returned from a nine-game absence caused by a bone bruise in his right knee, but managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting in 20 minutes. Billups, playing for the first time since early December due to an inflamed tendon in his left foot, had seven points in 16 minutes.
Griffin, who had sat out Los Angeles' last two outings with a hamstring injury, made 5-of-7 field goals in a 13-point performance that wasn't nearly enough to prevent the Clippers from their fourth setback in five games.
"Everyone knows we have not played with that group in a long time, but [the Heat] were quicker and more physical than us. They played harder than we did and put us back on our heels."
DeAndre Jordan paced Los Angeles with 17 points, with Jamal Crawford netting 13 in defeat.
The Clippers started out strong, hitting 65 percent of their shots in the first quarter and trailing only by one, 30-29, after closing the period on a 6-1 run.
Los Angeles was down by four just over four minutes into the second quarter, but the Heat took over from there.
Miami put forth a 9-0 surge highlighted by 3-pointers from Chalmers and Rashard Lewis that gave the hosts a 49-36 lead with five minutes left in the half.
The margin swelled to 17 points after a Wade jumper made the score 62-45 with 1:13 prior to intermission, though the Clippers closed out the session with five consecutive points to cut the margin to 12.
"Our guys came in, no question, with an aggressive, confident disposition," said Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. "It really set the tone defensively in the first half. Even though they scored, we were being aggressive and flying around, and obviously knocking down the threes helped."
The spread was 10 points just over two minutes into the second half, before Miami embarked on a 25-3 tear to put the contest completely out of reach.
James registered the first seven points of the sequence and had 11 overall during the run, which finally ended when Griffin hit a pair of free throws with 4:14 left in the third quarter. By that stage, the Heat had built an overwhelming 89-59 advantage.
The Clippers never got closer than 21 points down the rest of the way.
James' fourth straight game of 30 or more points tied a franchise record initially set by Wade from June 13-20, 2006 ... The Heat improved to 17-5 against Western Conference teams ... Crawford also sat out the Clippers' last game, an 86-76 win at Orlando on Wednesday, with a sore shoulder ... The Heat announced prior to the game they have signed reserve forward Chris Andersen for the remainder of the season ... Wade had a season-low six points and committed five turnovers when the teams met earlier this season, a 107-100 Clippers' victory in Los Angeles on Nov. 14 ... Miami has now won six straight at home and moved to 21-3 at American Airlines Arena this season.