Heat coach Eric Spoelstra was fulsome in his praise for the Clippers after his own team slipped to 6-3 for the season.
“We view them as legitimate contenders for the title,” he said. “We know and respect what these guys are about. They played a good game and beat us fair and square.”
In a high-octane start, James and Griffin treated the crowd to a sizzling display of driving layups, dunks and jump shots before a late burst of scoring by Crawford put the Clippers ahead 25-24 after a tightly contested first quarter.
There were seven lead changes in the second period but a trio of three-pointers by backup forward Rashard Lewis helped the Heat take a narrow 54-52 advantage into halftime.
Roared on by the home crowd, the Clippers upped the tempo and forward Caron Butler sank a three-pointer midway through the third quarter to give his team a welcome 67-60 lead.
Though the Heat briefly closed the gap to one, five-time All-Star Paul lifted Los Angeles spirits with back-to-back three-pointers to put them ahead 80-72 as loud chants of ‘CP3, CP3′ echoed around the Staples Center.
Leading 85-74 going into the fourth quarter, the Clippers padded that advantage to 93-76 after backup guard Eric Bledsoe followed a pair of layups with two free throws.
A Crawford jump shot gave Los Angeles their biggest lead of the night at 104-84 and Miami were unable to close the gap, despite a furious late rally.
“It’s a team effort every night,” speaking to Reuters Paul said. “Everybody is working hard and playing together. I know they (the Heat) ended with 100 (points) but our defence in the second half is what got us the win.”