LOS ANGELES (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – One thing is for sure about any Miami Heat team; they’ll never be accused of not putting forth maximum effort.
While the Heat are losers of seven of their last eight games and are languishing at the bottom of the Southeast Division, it hasn’t taken away their fight.
Miami will try to keep their players out of any physical confrontations and find a way into the win column when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Miami point guard Goran Dragic was not willing to give up position to Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson on Friday, leading to some physical play and eventually an altercation that left both players ejected.
“That’s really shameful, disgraceful that Goran Dragic got thrown out of that game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “It’s an elbow to the face, somebody that wants to fight, knocks him down on the ground, and it’s just a bail-out, shameful, disgraceful ejection.”
The Los Angeles Clippers are no strangers to ejections and physical play and added another two technical fouls to their total during a 106-98 win at Sacramento on Friday.
The win was the third in a row following a six-game slide and marked the return of star point guard Chris Paul from a hamstring injury that kept him out seven of the previous eight games.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE HEAT (11-27): Miami is expected to get a key player – and one of its toughest competitors – back on Sunday, with center Hassan Whiteside probable after sitting out the previous four games with an eye injury.
“It’s a lot better,” Whiteside told the Miami Herald of his eye, which was scratched and bruised by Boston small forward Jae Crowder late in a loss a week ago. “The headaches went away. I’m not seeing double anymore. So, I can see a lot better and a lot of pain went away.”
Whiteside, who is averaging 17.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks, leads the NBA in rebounding while Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan (13.4) ranked third entering Saturday.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (25-14): Paul played 31 minutes in his return and collected 14 points, 12 assists and three steals while hitting six free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.
“I feel great. That’s a good thing. I don’t feel nothing,” Paul told reporters. “I came out unscathed. I’m excited about Sunday.”
Paul’s efforts pushed him past Rod Strickland and into 10th place on the NBA’s all-time assist list and past Isiah Thomas for 16th place on the all-time steals list.
- Clippers G Austin Rivers is averaging 26 points on 19-of-31 shooting in the last two games.
- Heat SG Josh Richardson (foot) is not expected to play on Sunday.
- Los Angeles took the last three in the series, including a 102-98 win in Miami on Dec. 16.
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