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Clippers Gobbled Up in Hurry by the Heat

Pro basketball: Miami takes a 40-14 lead after one quarter and cruises to sixth road win in row.

November 28, 1996|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Clippers fed 4,000 turkey dinners to the needy Tuesday.

Wednesday, they looked like turkeys, falling behind the Miami Heat, 40-14, at the end of the first quarter and losing their fourth consecutive game, 98-82, before an announced crowd of 7,006 at the Sports Arena.

"On a scale of one to 10 it was a 26," Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said. "They had 26 points more than we did."

Asked to explain a first quarter in which the Heat shot 77.3%, Fitch asked: "Are you still writing for a family newspaper? I don't know who will start against Utah [Friday night at Salt Lake City], but I guarantee you it will be a different starting lineup just to see if we can't get a little more energy into the start.

"I didn't like the energy and I didn't like the defensive intensity. But they're not that good and we're not that bad."

Only 48 hours after playing perhaps their best game of the season in an 88-84 loss to the defending NBA champion Chicago Bulls, the Clippers played perhaps their worst game of the season against the Heat, which has won a team-record six consecutive road games, the longest winning streak of the Pat Riley era.

"You've got to stay away from the peaks and valleys in this league," Fitch said. "We didn't get too high the other night but we sure got low tonight. That's the valley of depression we haven't been in until tonight. We just had some guys who didn't come to the ballpark ready to play. It wasn't a group that I recognized."

The Clippers, who trailed by as much as 28 points, cut the deficit to 12 six minutes into the third quarter after center Alonzo Mourning, who had 19 points in 18 minutes, departed with his fourth foul. But that was as close as they got.

"Man, did they miss a shot out there in the first quarter?" asked Clipper guard Malik Sealy, who had three points and two rebounds in 22 minutes. "For a minute I thought I was going to score for them. We've got to get back on track.

"We've got to come to play every night. We can't play the Bulls well like we did and then come out and let them do whatever they wanted to.

"Hopefully, that'll be the last one you'll see. We've got to develop some consistency."

They were consistently bad. Loy Vaught, Stanley Roberts and Charles Outlaw all missed dunks in the Clippers' only national TV appearance of the season.

"It's embarrassing, our Nielsen rating was probably as bad as that first quarter," Fitch said.

Center Kevin Duckworth played a season-low three minutes because he couldn't contain Mourning, who made his first nine shots.

Roberts had four points and three rebounds in 15 foul-plagued minutes.

"It was very ugly," Roberts said. "It was one of the ugliest things I've seen in my life. They were ready and we weren't. We just can't take people lightly."

The Clippers couldn't stop Dan Majerle, who had 16 points in the first half and finished with season highs of 26 points and 10 rebounds.

The Clippers had only 11 players in uniform after Eric Piatkowski went home with flu.

But Piatkowski was lucky--he didn't have to watch the game.

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