Clippers breeze past hobbling Miami


Published: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 4, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

MIAMI — For the Miami Heat, this may have been rock bottom.

On a day when coach Pat Riley deactivated two forwards whose body fat readings aren't within team parameters, then began an indefinite leave of absence because of knee and hip problems, the defending NBA champions continued their free-fall.

Elton Brand scored 28 points and Chris Kaman added 20 as the Los Angeles Clippers easily beat Miami 110-95 Wednesday night, dealing the Heat their fourth straight loss.

"We caught a team that was really short-handed," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "This was a game we were supposed to win and our guys played well."

Corey Maggette had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Quinton Ross scored 13 points, and Daniel Ewing and Shaun Livingston each added 12 for the Clippers (15-17), who improved to 3-11 on the road.

Jason Kapono had 19 points for Miami (13-18), which is five games under .500 for the first time this season and opens a six-game Western Conference road swing in Phoenix on Friday night. Alonzo Mourning scored 16, as did rookie Robert Hite for the Heat, who allowed the Clippers to shoot 61 percent.

"It wasn't a very good effort on our part," Heat interim coach Ron Rothstein said. "We can do better than that and we need to do better than that. We'll work hard to do better than that. That's not acceptable. Take nothing away from the Clippers, but you just can't let people shoot in your face all night."

Riley announced four hours before tipoff that he'll undergo surgery Friday to remove floating chips in his right knee. He's then expected to schedule hip surgery once he recovers from the first procedure, and has no timetable for a return to coaching.

Riley's absence, combined with the pregame deactivation of forwards Antoine Walker and James Posey over their failure to meet team body-fat standards, only added to the dark cloud hovering over the Heat.

"It felt terrible out there," Heat center Michael Doleac said. "I got negative. I got down. And that's not right. You've got to fight that and stay positive as best you can and do whatever you can to win. Ridiculous. We're playing basketball. It's supposed to be fun, but the air around us is bad right now."

In Riley's absence, Rothstein takes over. He was the franchise's first coach, leading the Heat for their opening three expansion seasons from 1988 through 1991.

He didn't have much talent to work with in those days.

He doesn't have the Heat's full arsenal now, either.

Miami played again without center Shaquille O'Neal, who has been in only four games because of an injured knee. Finals MVP Dwyane Wade missed his third straight game with a sprained wrist, and neither Walker nor Posey will travel to Phoenix because of the conditioning mandates.

Add forward Wayne Simien, out indefinitely while recovering from a recurring case of salmonella, into the mix and the Heat had only 10 players in uniform Wednesday.

And the Clippers happily exploited Miami's depth issues.

WIZARDS 108, BUCKS 105

Gilbert Arenas hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer, capping a 32-point game and giving the Washington Wizards a 108-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night.

Arenas hit his 30-footer, turned and strolled calmly away as if it were another shot on the playground, even as his teammates mobbed him in celebration. Arenas had three things working against him — a sore shooting shoulder, the Bucks' zone defense and the old leather ball which he dislikes — but he went 12-for-25 from the field and had 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Caron Butler added 29 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Antawn Jamison had 22 points for the Wizards, who earned a split of a home-and-home series. The Bucks beat Washington 119-102 in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Arenas got the chance at the game-winner after Charlie Bell missed a 3-pointer from the baseline with less than 10 seconds remaining.

Michael Redd led the Bucks with 27 points. Mo Williams scored 24, and Bell had 14.

SUNS 100, RAPTORS 98

Steve Nash scored 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Phoenix Suns to a 100-98 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

Nash was only 1-for-7 from the field through three quarters, but he recovered in the fourth. The two-time MVP — dubbed "Captain Canada" — scored eight of Phoenix's final nine points.

Nash also had nine assists for the Suns, who are 22-3 since starting the season 1-5.

Toronto's Chris Bosh returned from a 12-game absence and had 26 points and 14 rebounds.

GRIZZLIES 144, WARRIORS 135

Former Gator Mike Miller scored a season-high 33 points and Pau Gasol added 24 points and 13 rebounds Wednesday night to lead host Memphis to the highest point total in franchise history.

Miller connected on 11 of 15 shots, including 9-of-12 from 3-point range, while Gasol shot 9-of-14. Stromile Swift had 26 points and nine rebounds, while Rudy Gay added 22 points for Memphis. Damon Stoudamire scored 18 points and had 16 assists.

The victory overshadowed a career high of 36 points by Golden State's Matt Barnes as seven Warriors scored in double figures.

CAVALIERS 107, CELTICS 104

LeBron James scored 32 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 27 points and 11 rebounds to lift visiting Cleveland.

Cleveland won for the fifth time in six games and has beaten the Celtics seven straight times. James scored only four points in the fourth quarter but has averaged 35 points during the Cavaliers' winning streak against Boston.

Cleveland won for the second time in its last seven road games and tied Orlando and Chicago for most wins in the Eastern Conference with 19.

ROCKETS 103, SUPERSONICS 96

Tracy McGrady scored 31 points, topping 30 for the third straight game, and Juwan Howard added 18 as the host Houston Rockets beat the Seattle SuperSonics 103-96 on Wednesday night.

McGrady also had seven assists and Dikembe Mutombo grabbed 14 rebounds as the Rockets won their fourth straight game. Houston is 4-1 since Yao Ming broke a bone in his right leg.

Ray Allen scored 32 on 13-of-22 shooting for the Sonics, who've lost four of their last five and 10 in a row on the road. Damien Wilkins added 19.

TIMBERWOLVES 103, SPURS 101

Mark Blount scored 28 points, Kevin Garnett had 27 points and 17 rebounds, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the San Antonio Spurs 103-101 in overtime on Wednesday night.

Minnesota made six straight free throws, Trenton Hassell grabbed a key rebound late in overtime, and the Timberwolves beat the Spurs for the first time in six tries.

After Randy Foye and Blount each made two shots from the free throw line, Garnett made two with 1:03 left in the extra period for a 103-98 lead, but Tony Parker made three of four for the Spurs.

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