Vintage performance from D-Wade at AA Arena.
With just three games on the NBA schedule on Thursday night, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat took on the Los Angeles Clippers in a potential preview of the NBA Finals.
Such has been the impact of the arrival of Doc Rivers and the early form of Chris Paul, experts have tipped the Clippers as a team capable of coming out of the Western Conference this season.
While the likes of the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder will undoubtedly think otherwise, the Clippers appear to have the pieces in place to at least be included in that group of teams.
Nevertheless, Dwyane Wade ensured that their belief took a small knock on Thursday night as his game-high 29 points sealed a 102-97 win for the hosts at the AA Arena.
LeBron James has since revealed that he is battling a sore back which ultimately may have resulted in Wade’s increased influence, as he went 13-of-22 from the field, with James, Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen and Ray Allen all getting into double figures.
For the Clippers, they had good production across the roster with Blake Griffin leading them with a team-high of 27 points, although it wasn’t enough to topple the defending champions.
Rivers will undoubtedly use the experience moving forward with his new team, and they are expected to be in the hunt for the top seed in the West come next year.
Elsewhere, the Atlanta Hawks fell to defeat at the Denver Nuggets despite scoring over 100 points on their trip, with the hosts picking up their first win of the season.
Point guard Ty Lawson was instrumental in the 109-107 win with 23 points and eight assists, as the Hawks had double scoring points from the entire starting line-up but it still wasn’t enough.
Paul Millsap was perhaps the most impressive of the bunch, as he went 10-of-15 for a game-high 29 points.
Meanwhile, there was also some additional joy for Los Angeles Lakers fans as they sealed a last gasp win against Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets.
D-12 had 15 points and 14 rebounds, but it was Steve Blake who hit the game-winner to silence the home crowd.
Los Angeles Clippers 97-102 Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks 107-109 Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Lakers 99-98 Houston Rockets