NBA wins as Clippers beat Heat in China

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NBA wins as Clippers beat Heat in China

SHANGHAI - The Los Angeles Clippers used a dominant inside attack to dispatch the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat 99-89 in an exhibition game yesterday in front of a sellout crowd of 18,000 in Shanghai.

With All-Star point guard Chris Paul guiding the offense, Clippers big men Eddie Jordan and Blake Griffin thrilled the crowd with dunks as Los Angeles jumped to a first quarter double-digit lead.

Jordan scored 13 of his game-high 18 points in the first quarter, while power forward Griffin scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Clippers avenged a 94-80 loss to Miami in Beijing on Thursday.

With Los Angeles leading 84-67 at the end of the third quarter, both coaches chose to sit their top players.

A 12-0 run by Miami midway through the fourth quarter cut the lead to 93-87, but was too little too late.

Miami was led by forward Rodney Carney with 15 points, while reigning NBA most-valuable-player LeBron James scored 11 points in limited playing time.

Basketball is arguably the most popular sport in China, the NBA’s biggest market outside of the United States.

“We believe the future of basketball in China is very, very bright,” NBA commissioner David Stern said before the game. “This is a market that is very important .?.?. We believe it has enormous potential.”

The pair of games marked the sixth time the NBA has held preseason matches in China.

Stern announced the NBA would participate in an annual summer game with the charity foundation of former NBA superstar Yao Ming, who retired last year after a nine-year NBA career.

Yao, who sat courtside, has had a huge impact on the game’s popularity in the world’s most populous nation. His retirement has apparently had little impact on China’s love affair with the game.

The popularity of the sport has also grown as a more former NBA stars finish their careers in China, including one-time New York Knick Stephon Marbury, who won a Chinese Basketball Association championship with the Beijing Ducks last season.

On Wednesday, seven-time NBA all-star Tracy McGrady, who once teamed with Yao in Houston, announced he will play for the CBA’s Qingdao Eagles during the coming season.

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