The Clippers ran into a buzzsaw Friday night. It was great to have Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups back in the lineup, but it didn't much matter who the Clippers had out there the way the Heat were shooting. Consider this.
The Heat starting lineup consisted of Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and LeBron James.
Haslem shot 3-3 from the field for six points. He did not take a free throw.
Battier shot 4-5 from the field, all of them three pointers, for 12 points. He did not take a free throw.
Chalmers shot 5-9 from the field, with all of his makes coming from three point range and finished with 18 points. He was also 3-3 from the line, making two clear path free throws and a technical, so strictly speaking none of his free throws used any possessions.
James shot 9-11 from the field, 4-5 from three point range. He was 8-11 from the line (meaning that his poorest shooting percentage on the evening was when he was literally not being guarded). He finished with 30 points. His 11 free throws included two 'and-ones" (one of those completing a four point play) and one technical free throw, meaning that his 11 free throws accounted for an additional four possessions.
By my math, that makes 66 points on 28 shots, but more importantly just 32 possessions from those four starters. That's a true shooting percentage (really a true true shooting percentage, for what it's worth) better than 100%.
The fifth starter, Dwyane Wade, who had a mere 20 points on 8-16 from the field, was really dragging the rest of his teammates down.
They were all ridiculous. If Shane Battier were to participate in the three point shootout at All Star weekend, he wouldn't make four of five corner threes. But James was by far the most ridiculous. Until late in the third quarter, the only shots he missed were three free throws and a shot that DeAndre Jordan smothered at the rim. In other words, if they weren't blocking his shot, the Clippers were having no effect at all. Their free throw defense against him was significantly better than their field goal defense.
The bright side to this is that the Clippers were likely to lose in Miami regardless, and guaranteed to lose on this night when Miami could not miss. So they take their loss, they got some game action, such as it was, in for their returning players, and now they move on to New York. We'd all be perfectly happy with a split of the Miami-New York double header, and assuming the returnees all feel fine for the game Sunday morning, the Clippers will be in better shape for the Knicks. The first game back was always going to show some rust. Better that Paul has a 1-5 game on a night when Miami was unbeatable than in a game the Clippers might have a chance to win.