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Shorthanded Heat Look To Take Down Visiting Clippers

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – There are some Miami Heat players that are still adjusting to life without LeBron James.

It's been a difficult few months for Mario Chalmers, who was criticized for his poor play in the NBA Finals, then lost his starting job at the beginning of the season.

He's now giving the Miami Heat a boost with some of the best basketball of his career in Dwyane Wade's absence.

Miami could use another strong performance from Chalmers with Wade unlikely to play Thursday night against the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.

Chalmers shot a career-high 45.4 percent last season but averaged only 4.4 points on 7-of-21 shooting as Miami lost the NBA Finals in five games to San Antonio. He had started all 214 of the games he appeared prior to opening this season as a backup to Norris Cole.

After Wade suffered a hamstring injury in a Nov. 12 loss to Indiana, Chalmers has averaged 21.0 points on 52.8 percent shooting while playing increased minutes the last three games, including back-to-back starts. He entered the season averaging 8.6 points and shooting 42.7 percent for his career.

Chalmers made a career-best 11 of 13 free throws and led the team in scoring for a third straight game with 22 points in Monday's 95-83 win at Brooklyn, ending a three-game slide for Miami (6-5).

"We needed this game tonight," said Chalmers, whose 11.1 scoring average versus the Clippers is his second-highest against one opponent. "After the losing streak we were on, it's good to get on the road and get a big win like this."

Wade is questionable, as is Luol Deng, who didn't play against the Nets due to a sprained wrist. Josh McRoberts (foot) is probable after missing the last three games.

Los Angeles (6-4) won 114-90 on Wednesday at Orlando and has alternated wins and losses its last eight games. The Clippers' bench outscored the Magic 60-23 and the starters were rested for the fourth quarter, which could prove crucial later during this seven-game, 11-day road trip.

"It was real big, especially this being a seven-game road trip for us and going to play against a tough Miami team tomorrow," said Chris Paul, who had 16 points and nine assists in a season-low 30 minutes. "We needed to get that rest."

Paul has shot 37.7 percent in his last five meetings with Miami.

Orlando was 34 of 86 from the floor, marking the third time in four games the Clippers have held their opponent to 39.8 percent shooting or worse. Their first six opponents shot 49.1 percent.

Los Angeles is 2-4 against teams .500 or better and Thursday's game marks the first of three such opponents on this trip along with Memphis and Houston.

Chris Bosh had gone 12 for 49 from the field during Miami's losing streak, but scored 15 on 5-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds against the Nets. He shot 39.3 percent in his last five games against the Clippers.

Miami's three-game series winning streak is its longest since a nine-game run from Dec. 30, 1995-Feb. 13, 2001. Though the Heat are 3-3 at home thus far, they've won five straight in Miami over the Clippers by an average of 16.0 points.

Blake Griffin's 2013-14 season high of 43 came in a 116-112 loss in Los Angeles on Feb. 5.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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