Winning on the road has not been easy for the Los Angeles Clippers this season. They’ll have lots of time to start changing that trend as they open an All-Star game-induced, nine-game trip against the Miami Heat.
The Clippers, 4-13 away from Staples Center, are set to begin their longest road stretch of the season, one that will keep them away from Los Angeles for 22 days.
The Clippers will be on the road for their eight remaining games before the midseason break, as the arena needs to be prepared to host the NBA All-Star game and the Grammy Awards.
Despite their road record, Clippers captain Elton Brand is optimistic about the team’s longest trip of the season.
“We’ve been struggling on the road, but there are teams on this trip that we can beat,” said Brand, who had 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks Tuesday. “We just have to bring the intensity, bring the fire and just compete every single night, like we have. Everybody’s talking about the `road woes,’ but we’re hungry and we’re excited about the trip.”
The significance of winning their last home game until Feb. 19 was not lost on the Clippers, who are 7-2 in home contests immediately preceding road trips.
“You always want to get the getaway game and take that positive feeling on the road with you,” Quentin Richardson said.
The Heat saw their three-game winning streak end Wednesday with a 94-93 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday. Rookie Dwyane Wade had a potential game-winning layup blocked from behind by the Cavaliers’ Ira Newble in the closing seconds.
Wade, returning to the lineup after missing 13 games with a sprained wrist, finished with 15 points and five assists.
The Heat played without center Brian Grant, who has been nursing a bruised left knee and tendinitis in his right knee. Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said he doesn’t know how long his second-leading rebounder will be out.
Heat forward Lamar Odom spent his first four NBA seasons with the Clippers, averaging 15.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.6 assists during that span.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 28): Clippers - 4th place (tied), 12 GB, Pacific Division. Heat - 4th place (tied), 5 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Clippers - Maggette, 20.3 ppg; Brand, 12.1 rpg; Jaric, 4.4 apg. Heat - Jones, 18.3 ppg; Odom, 9.7 rpg; Wade, 4.5 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Heat, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 16; Heat, 87-85. At Los Angeles, Odom had 11 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Heat to a narrow victory over his former team. Brand had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Clippers - 4-13 on the road; Heat - 13-7 at home.