James, Heat hold off Clippers 116-112

Joe Resnick - The Philippine Star

LOS ANGELES -- LeBron James had 31 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds, Ray Allen hit a clinching 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Miami Heat snapped a five-game road losing streak against the stubborn Los Angeles Clippers with a 116-112 victory on Wednesday night.

Allen had 15 points off the bench for the two-time defending NBA champions, who began a six-game road trip that will be interrupted four games in by the All-Star break. Dwyane Wade, one of seven Miami players scoring in double figures, had 14 points and eight assists in his 700th regular-season game. The Heat had lost 10 of their previous 12 road games against the Clippers, and hadn't beaten them at Staples Center since Dec. 9, 2007.

Los Angeles, coming off Monday's stinging 116-115 loss at Denver on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by ex-Clipper Randy Foye, got a season-high 43 points and 13 rebounds fromBlake Griffin and 31 points from Jamal Crawford. DeAndre Jordan extended his franchise record of consecutive double-digit rebound performances to 29 games with 16 boards and 16 points.

The Pacific Division champions are 11-6 since Chris Paul went down with a separated right shoulder on Jan. 3 at Dallas.

With Darren Collison and Crawford replacing Paul and J.J. Redick (sore right hip) in the starting lineup, the Clippers' bench produced only two points - a 20-foot jumper by Jared Dudley with 3:17 left in the first quarter - until Willie Green hit a pair of free throws to pull Los Angeles within 91-84 with 9:51 to play.

Allen, who holds the NBA record for career 3-pointers, converted a four-point play after Green fouled him behind the arc. That extended Miami's lead to 99-87 with 8:07 remaining. The 18-year veteran's second 3 made it 112-107 with 42.4 seconds to go.           

The Clippers, who held Miami to just two field goals over the first 7:47 of the fourth quarter, narrowed the gap to 99-95 with a 10-0 run capped by Griffin's tip-in with 5:15 left. But James responded with a 3-pointer and a layup 53 seconds apart.

The Heat opened the third quarter with an 11-5 run that extended their seven-point halftime lead to 73-60. Wade set up an alley-oop dunk by James, and Mario Chalmers hit a 3-pointer from in front of the Clippers' bench to cap the rally with 8:48 left in the period. Chalmers' basket put all of Miami's starters in double-figure scoring.

Griffin led all scorers in the first half with 22 points and Crawford added 18, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the second quarter. But the Heat led 62-55 at intermission after shooting 57.1 percent and converting 12 Clippers turnovers into 15 points.

Miami's ball movement was superb from the outset, recording assists on all but one of its first 18 field goals and building a 43-24 lead with 9:44 left in the second quarter.

Matt Barnes, who sat out the Clippers' 102-97 loss at Miami on Nov. 7 because of a bruised right thigh, cut the deficit to 56-49 on a layup with 2:04 left in second quarter. James briefly restored Miami's double-digit margin on a 3-pointer from in front of the Heat bench with 1:34 left.

James was called for a reach-in foul against Griffin with 3:17 left in the third quarter, his first of the game, and was assessed a technical foul by referee Bill Kennedy for complaining about it with Miami leading 81-69.

Sasha Vujacic, who signed a 10-day contract with the Clippers on Monday, played 1:17 in his first NBA game since April 13, 2011 with the Nets. The 6-foot-7 guard, who turns 30 on March 8, won a pair of NBA championship rings with the Lakers and spent the previous two seasons playing in Turkey.

NOTES: Miami had 33 assists on 41 field goals overall. ... Allen played in his 1,271st regular-season game, overtaking John Havlicek for 19th place all-time. ... The Clippers began a five-game homestand that includes four opponents that entered Wednesday with a combined 126-62 record - Portland and division leaders Miami, Toronto and San Antonio. ... Miami improved to 8-2 against teams that currently lead their division. The Clippers are 3-6 in that department. ... Six of the 24 players in uniform have scored 50 or more points in an NBA game - James, Wade, Allen, Crawford, Rashard Lewis and Antawn Jamison.

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