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Paul George goes about his business

Sexta victoria consecutiva de los Clippers, de nuevo con Paul George como líder. Los Heat, sin Jimmy Butler, pierden sus dos duelos en Los Angeles.

The Clippers are sweet. And they are, right now, the best team in the NBA. Something strange if we consider the history of a small team with pretenses of greatness, created by stingy Donald Sterling and that the only thing he did in the beginning was to live off the crumbs of the Lakers that Jerry Buss left when he acquired the franchise, back in 1979. The recent history of the Clippers, well, has radically changed the one that is not so recent, with Steve Ballmer becoming owner of the franchise after Sterling and the scandal that sparked his racist comments had to walk out the back door of the NBA. A superbly resolved episode, by the way, by a newcomer Adam Silver, who avoided the boycott of the players and took control of the situation thanks to his privileged mind and his magnetic speech.

Beyond all that, the Angelenos have risen one more step. Without Kawhi Leonard, that mysterious being that nobody knows or thinks they know, the Clippers have been done partially with the approval of the public opinion, that place where the battles that decide wars are won and lost. They are doing it at a fantastic start to the season, in which they started 1-4 and are now 7-4. But also, of course, in the last playoffs, in an extraordinary exercise of resilience that led them to the first Conference finals in their history. There are only two teams that have never stepped in that round: Hornets and Pelicans. Intrinsically related, with parallel lives and a history as small as its social base. The Clippers are already, after many setbacks and efforts, to another level. Finally.

Against the Heat, the Clippers have added their sixth consecutive victory. A streak in which the Thunder, Timberwolves, Hornets, Blazers and Heat have fallen twice. And now, they have three more home games against Wolves, Bulls and Spurs.. The second of them will be really interesting; the other two rivals, in theory, more feasible. With regard to Miami, the Heat arrived punished by casualties, especially Jimmy Butler, who with discomfort in his right knee is still out. In total, the Florida team have three consecutive defeats, two against Los Angeles teams in two games (and in back to back) who have lost by just three points, the first of them in overtime. And, although they are by no means in a worrying situation, they have ceased, at least momentarily, to be that team from the initial duels that some analyst put into the pools for the ring.

The Heat started flying at Staples Center: 40 points in the first quarter. Tyronn Lue wasted no time in making the necessary adjustments so that in the combined of the second and third periods, Erik Spoelstra’s men will score fewer points (38) than in the initial 12 minutes. Of course, the Heat did not give up and transformed a result of 108-100 to 1:48 for the end (after a triple by Reggie Jackson), in one of 108-107 with just over 40 seconds to play and thanks to a awesome 2 + 1 from Kyle Lowry. And the end of the game, rather than hitting more, was based on miss less: Jackson made two free throws, Lowry responded (110-109), Jackson made two more free throws and PJ Tucker, after timeout, fumbled on a bad pass intercepted by another veteran, Nicolas Batum. And there they sentenced the Clippers, who saw very closely the connate of rebellion, the threat of a comeback. But they resisted with solvency and temperance in a tachycardic final minute.

Paul George was again, of course, the best player of the game: 27 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists for him. Zubac added 18 + 11, Reggie Jackson 22 points (and the last 7 of his team), Bledsoe 21 and Luke Kennard another 12 from the bench. In the Heat, Bam Adebayo punished the rival pingtura too much: 30 points with 11 rebounds. Tucker, despite the last loss, did good defensive work (6 + 10), Tyler Herro scored 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds (but made 0 of 6 in triples) and Lowry, always clairvoyant, went to 25 + 5, with a good 9 of 17 in field goals. The triple was torture for the Heat (9 of 41, 22%), who won the battle for the rebound (50-42) but could not manage the initial advantage or come back at the end. Yes indeed, against these Clippers one more march is needed to scratch a victory. A compensated team, huge and that is playing better than anyone. And with Paul George as leader. Almost nothing.

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