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Los Angeles at Miami

Heat kick off six-game homestand with win over Clippers

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MIAMI -- By the time Dwyane Wade left the court Wednesday night, by the time Erik Spoelstra finished his postgame remarks, the Miami Heat turned their collective thoughts in two directions.

Away from the Clippers.

And on to the Bulls.

 Heat out of contact with embattled PG Alston

Wade had 27 points and eight assists, Jermaine O'Neal finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, and the Heat extended their longest home winning streak of the season to four games by beating Los Angeles 108-97 -- meaning they'll be no worse than tied with Chicago for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot when the Bulls visit on Friday.

The Heat (33-32) moved a game ahead of Chicago in the chase for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, though the Bulls also have 32 losses and two games in hand. Miami is 0.00024 percentage points behind Charlotte, which won in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

"We've had a better sense of urgency now in the last couple weeks and we've been able to sustain it," Spoelstra said. "But we can't get ahead of ourselves and start to think about all these games in the future. We've got a big one on Friday."

Michael Beasley scored 15 points before leaving with a thigh bruise late in the third quarter, and Mario Chalmers chipped in with 12 points for Miami.

Former Heat forward Rasual Butler scored 31 points, two off his career best, for the Clippers, who lost their fifth straight. Chris Kaman scored 16, Steve Blake added 12 and Baron Davis scored 10 for the Clippers, now 2-20 on the road since Dec. 19.

"We have to get better every day," Clippers coach Kim Hughes said. "We have to work and try to find that chemistry. There are no excuses for not continuing to finish it out. The season is not done and every game is a learning process."

Wade made 15-of-17 free throws and added six rebounds for Miami. He sat out the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles got within 106-97 on a 3-pointer by Davis with 1:16 left, but the lead was never in serious doubt.

Butler didn't score in the game's final 16:50.

"I made up my mind that I was going to come out and be aggressive," Butler said. "When normally I'm aggressive, we're in ballgames."

Miami has pointed to this six-game homestand, which began Wednesday, as a chance to get rolling -- with good reason.

Of Miami's 17 remaining games, only five are against teams currently over .500 -- and the last eight all will likely pit the Heat against lottery-bound teams.

The Clippers remain alive in the playoff race only mathematically (they started Wednesday 12 games out with 18 remaining). But still, it took the Heat nearly three full quarters to put away this one.

And Butler was the reason for that.

He scored 14 points in the first quarter, looking comfortable as ever on his former home floor, and the Heat didn't offer much in the way of resistance.

"Rasual was in a terrific groove," Spoelstra said.

In the third quarter, Butler made his first five shots, including a trio of 3-pointers. The last of which came with 4:50 left, getting the Clippers within 75-70.

It could have sent the Heat harkening back to Tuesday night, when they wasted a big second-half lead in Charlotte.

"We've got to move forward," Wade said. "We're in this playoff race. You don't have time to feel sorry for yourself. So we came back today versus a good offensive team in the Clippers and fought."

Fight they did.

A 15-2 run closed the third quarter, turning a tenuous lead into a 90-72 cushion entering the fourth. Wade had seven points during the burst, plus used his eighth assist to set up a 3-pointer by Chalmers with 11.7 ticks remaining, and the Heat weren't in danger again.

With that, on to Chicago.

"Important game for us, like it's an important game for them," Wade said. "We'll both be looking forward to it."

Notes

  • Butler's teams have gone 1-5 when he scores at least 30 points. The one win? It came when he was with the Hornets -- and naturally, against the Clippers, back on March 21, 2006.
  • For the record, not everyone complains about foul calls. After getting whistled with 6:16 left in the third for an illegal screen, Beasley nodded knowingly, then said "good call" to referee Greg Willard.
  • Davis had a 60-foot alley-oop assist to DeAndre Jordan for a dunk in the first quarter.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Dwyane Wade (27 points, eight assists) helps Miami to its season-best 4th straight home win.  (Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade (27 points, eight assists) helps Miami to its season-best 4th straight home win. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
L.A. Clippers (25-40) 2424242597
Miami (33-32) «34233318108
LAC:R. Butler 31 Pts
LAC:D. Gooden 9 Reb
LAC:B. Davis 9 Ast
MIA:D. Wade 27 Pts
MIA:U. Haslem 10 Reb
MIA:D. Wade 8 Ast
Players of the Game
MiamiLos Angeles

D. Wade

R. Butler
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
27683122
Los Angeles
R. Butler, SG3712-191-122231
B. Davis, PG364-111-149010
S. Blake, PG364-110-045112
C. Kaman, C278-170-051516
D. Gooden, PF241-94-49036
C. Smith, PF312-61-28355
M. Collins, PG212-71-12135
D. Jordan, C143-62-27048
T. Outlaw, SF142-30-21034
B. Skinner, PFDid Not Play
B. Brown, PGDid Not Play
S. Novak, SFDid Not Play
B. Griffin, PFDid Not Play
E. Gordon, SGDid Not Play
Totals 38-8910-1342212697
 42.7%76.9% 
Miami
D. Wade, SG306-1215-1768327
J. O'Neal, C307-165-590419
Q. Richardson, SG263-80-06128
M. Beasley, PF256-103-431215
C. Arroyo, PG202-50-01214
M. Chalmers, PG304-80-006012
U. Haslem, PF232-63-410207
D. Wright, SG220-41-12011
J. Magloire, C182-22-49006
J. Jones, SF163-60-02019
D. Cook, SGDid Not Play
Y. Diawara, SFDid Not Play
J. Anthony, CDid Not Play
Totals 35-7729-35482014108
 45.5%82.9% 
Other Games
Char 102 Final
Phi 87
Mem 111 Final
Bos 91
Utah 115 Final
Det 104
Den 110 Final
Min 102
NO 83 Final
OKC 98
NJ 87 Final
Dal 96
NY 87 Final
SA 97
Tor 90 Final
Sac 113