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Clippers back on track with fourth straight NBA win

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LA Clippers’ Chris Paul has become the 10th player in league history to reach 8,000 assists, finishing a Sunday night game against Miami Heat with 8,012 © GETTY/AFP/File / Mike Ehrmann

LOS ANGELES, United States, Jan 9 – The Los Angeles Clippers put their late-December swoon further behind them on Sunday with a convincing 98-86 NBA victory over the under-manned Miami Heat.

J.J. Redick scored 25 points and point guard Chris Paul added 19 points, 18 assists and six rebounds as the Clippers won their fourth straight.

Paul became the 10th player in league history to reach 8,000 assists, finishing the night 8,012.

Marreese Speights chipped in 19 points off the bench and Brandon Bass added 12 for Los Angeles.

“We had a rough stretch, but I feel like we’re getting back to defending,” said Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, who collected 18 rebounds to go with seven points.

The Clippers got off to a solid start this season, with one seven-game winning streak in November contributing to a 14-2 start.

But with Blake Griffin sidelined after arthroscopic knee surgery on December 20, and Paul battling a sore hamstring, the Clippers dropped six straight from December 23-31.

Although the Clippers still don’t have Blake back, and guard Austin Rivers missed Sunday’s game with the flu, they had plenty to beat a Heat team without injured Josh Richardson and ailing Luke Babbitt.

Despite missing two starters, the Heat stayed within striking range for much of the first half. However, a late flourish by the Clippers allowed them to take a 52-39 lead at the interval.

Los Angeles stretched the lead to as many as 23 points in the third period and they led 80-66 going into the final frame — which they opened with a 9-2 scoring run.

“I definitely think we have stabilized a little bit,” said Redick, who made nine of 19 shots from the floor, including four three-pointers.

“I think sometimes during the course of the year, you forget what your identity is and what makes you good. What made us good in the beginning of the year in that first stretch of games was how hard we played, and I think we have gotten back to that over the last eight or nine days.”

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