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Heat Hammers Clippers in Return of Chris Paul

The Los Angeles Clippers welcomed Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Blake Griffin back to the lineup, but Lebron James and Dwayne Wade didn’t care. James led the Miami Heat with 30 points and Wade chipped in 20 more as Miami routed the Clippers 111-89. The Heat were without Chris Bosh and Ray Allen who were out with the flu, but it made little difference as the game was not close. Miami ran its Eastern Conference leading record to 33-14 with the win ans the Clippers fell to 35-17.

The second place team in the East, the New York Knicks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-94 to run their record to 32-16. Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points in the win, including 12 points down the stretch as the Knicks rallied from an 11 point fourth quarter hole to pull it out. The Knicks will host the Clippers on Sunday in a big game for both teams.

Rudy Gay scored 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to rally the Toronto Raptors to a 100-98 win over the third place team in the East, the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers had their five game winning streak snapped and saw their lead in the Central Division shrunk to a half game over the Chicago Bulls who are in the fourth spot in the East. The Pacers literally threw the game away at the end of regulation when a wild inbounds pass was stolen by Gay who got the ball to Amir Johnson for a layup at the buzzer to send it to overtime.

The Bulls rebounded from a clunker on Thursday night in a loss to the Denver Nuggets to beat the Utah Jazz on Friday 93-89. Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 19 points and Nate Robinson added 18 as they improved to 30-20 on the season. Boozer had 11 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bulls pull out the win after the Jazz rallied to tie the game at the end of the third quarter. The Bulls only had 11 points as a team in the third quarter.

The fifth place team in the East is the Brooklyn Nets who had their own stinker on Friday, losing to the Washington Wizards 89-74. Nene scored 20 points and had 11 rebounds as the Wizards won their eighth hoke game in nine tries at the Verizon Center. The Wizards are finally getting their lineup at near full strength and they are showing that they can play when healthy. They ran their record to 14-35 on the season and at one point held the Nets scoreless for nine minutes in the second quarter. The loss dropped Brooklyn to 29-21.

The sixth place Atlanta Hawks dropped one to the New Orleans Hornets on Friday 111-100. The loss dropped the Hawks to 27-22 on the season. Greivis Vasquez led the Hornets with a triple double, 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds as the Hornets improved to 17-33 on the season. The Hawks were led by Josh Smith with 23 points and Jeff Teague with 21.

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