LOS ANGELES — A month ago, Hassan Whiteside was working on his game in the NBA Development League with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. On Sunday, Whiteside resembled an NBA All-Star, helping the Miami Heat roll past the Los Angeles Clippers
Whiteside, a 7-foot center, came off the bench to deliver a career-high 23 points and 16 rebounds, and the Heat shook off a slow start to defeat the Clippers 104-90 at Staples Center.
Center Chris Bosh also scored 34 points for the Heat (16-21), who won for the second time in three games after dropping four in a row. Guard Dwyane Wade added 17 points and 10 assists.
Whiteside, a second-round pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2010 draft, helped the Heat flip the script in the first quarter, turning a 13-point first-quarter deficit into a nine-point advantage at the half. Los Angeles was never the same.
“I just come in and just rebound, block shots and try to dunk on people,” said Whiteside, who was 10 of 13 from the floor and had two blocks. “I just try to do all of it. I drill everyday with (assistant coach) Juwan Howard and I just work on the jumper, left hand, right hand, different post moves. I work on everything.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin, who had 26 points to lead his team, didn’t exactly seem convinced by Whiteside’s performance.
“I thought we gave him too many easy buckets right at the rim,” said Griffin, who made 10 of 19 shots. “When they spread the floor with Bosh, you have to respect him from deep, and it leaves the rim sometimes a little unprotected. I think we just have to make it a lighter for a guy like him.
“He played well, extremely well. His efficiency was great, on the boards he was great and he was the biggest difference in this game.”
Point guard Chris Paul finished with 23 points and nine assists, while shooting guard J.J. Redick added 14 points as Los Angeles (25-13), which had a two-game winning streak snapped and had just three players score in double figures.
The Clippers, who trailed by double digits for much of the second half, failed to get any closer than seven in the fourth quarter. Two free throws by Paul cut the deficit to 97-90 with 1:58 remaining in the game, but a 3-point basket by Bosh 15 seconds later clinched the victory for the Heat.
“It just shows what our abilities are, what we are capable of as long as we pull together and play like we’re supposed to play,” said Bosh, who made 13 of his 20 attempts from the field and two of five on 3-pointers. “It’s not always easy when things don’t go your way to stay solid and continue to push forward, but that’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Los Angeles closed within 70-64 early in the third quarter after a jumper by Paul, but Miami answered with a 9-0 run after Bosh, who scored 11 in the period, nailed a fade-away jumper with 4:46 remaining. The Heat led 86-76 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Heat allowed the Clippers to jump to a 19-6 lead after a Paul jumper at 6:40 of the first quarter before going on a 24-10 tear for a Miami 30-29 lead at the end of the quarter. Whiteside’s 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting altered the Clippers’ fortunes.
“Our defense sort of let up tonight,” Paul said “We were scoring pretty effortlessly and I guess we thought it was going to be like that all game. They found a pet play and stuck to it, and then we were having difficulty with it.”
Bosh had nine of his 17 first-half points in the second quarter as the Heat took a 62-53 lead at the half.
The Heat crushed the Clippers on the boards 46-27, including a 15-6 edge on the offensive end.
NOTES: Coach Doc Rivers was coy regarding speculation his son Austin is headed to the Clippers. The Boston Celtics reportedly were close to formalizing a five-player deal involving the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies that would result in New Orleans backup PG Austin Rivers being shipped to Boston and then to Los Angeles. “I know there has been all these rumors, but I can’t talk about that,” Rivers said. “But we’re going to do what we need to do, I know that.” … Los Angeles won the initial meeting with the Heat 110-93 on Nov. 20 in Miami. … The Heat, who haven’t played since Thursday’s defeat at Portland, will spend a few more days in Los Angeles before facing the Lakers on Tuesday. … The Miami contest capped a nine-game homestand for the Clippers. They visit the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
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