Clippers guard Chris Paul, left, tries to steal the ball away from Miami… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
It was the second of the three NBA elite teams the Clippers would face this week, this one being the Miami Heat.
The Clippers took care of business this time, keeping their cool, staying calm, pulling out a 95-89 overtime victory over the Heat on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Chris Paul directed the attack, scoring a season-high 27 points, handing out 11 assists, grabbing six rebounds. He had only one turnover in almost 45 minutes.
"We didn't win a championship," Paul said. "Like I said, we just beat a quality team. We have to move on from this game and get ready for the Lakers on Saturday."
No, the Clippers didn't win a championship, but they showed poise.
They showed they could play defense, holding the Heat to 39.5% shooting and no field goals in the last 71/2 minutes of regulation..
And the Clippers showed they could get production from a lot of places.
Blake Griffin and Caron Butler had 20 points for the Clippers.
DeAndre Jordan had eight points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Chauncey Billups had 12 points, including three consecutive free throws after being fouled by LeBron James while shooting a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter.
And when the game was there for the taking, the Clippers took it, outscoring the Heat 9-3 in the overtime.
"It showed me that we have the mental capability and the players in order to buckle down down the stretch," Paul said. "Me, Chauncey, we've been in these situations time and time again. We know how to control the game and balance the clock."
James led the Heat with 23 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. But he was only nine for 17 from the free-throw line, missing two of four in the final 16 seconds of regulation.
Dwyane Wade had 17 points and Chris Bosh had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
The Clippers, coming off a loss at Portland on Tuesday, next host the Lakers Saturday night, another of the elite teams coming for a visit.
"It's a tough stretch," Paul said. "You've just got to take them one game at a time and realize that it's quarter by quarter.
"We played Portland at Portland. Miami tonight. Lakers on Saturday and then we've got our back-to-back-to-back next week. So we've got to take it one game at a time. But it's a tough stretch."
Neither team backed down Wednesday, both of them going hard at each other in the fourth quarter.
Billups, who entered the game making 96.9% of his free throws (31 of 32), made all three free throws for an 86-84 Clippers lead with 27.3 seconds left in the fourth.
James made one of two free throws, but the Clippers couldn't get the rebound.
James was fouled again, but he made only one of two free throws again, tying the score at 86-86, sending the game into overtime.
"This is a great experience for us and gives us confidence," Griffin said. "But at the same time, we have to be ready to play and we have to grind out games like this when we're not playing the Heat on ESPN or not playing the Lakers. We've got to step up and play that way every single night."