The Clippers are 6-1 at Staples Center, the franchise’s best start since winning nine of the first 10 home games in the 1974-75 season, when they team was the Buffalo Braves. That club set a franchise record for home wins (30) and total wins (49).
Coach Mike Dunleavy has stressed the importance of winning at home, and his young team has responded. The Clippers, who opened a five-game homestand with a 102-90 victory Saturday over Cleveland, have averaged 101.6 points and shot 48.7 percent from the field in their seven games at Staples.
“It wasn’t about revenge, it was about winning the game,” said Clippers center Chris Kaman, who had 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds as Los Angeles bounced back from Wednesday’s 112-105 overtime loss to the Cavaliers. “We want to beat every team that steps on this floor.”
Kaman is averaging 8.1 points and 8.0 rebounds on the season, but has contributed 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 58.5 percent at home.
Elton Brand added 30 points and nine rebounds Saturday for the Clippers, who have limited opponents to 92.7 points and 38.9 percent shooting at home.
“I wanted to come and attack early, get us a lead and protect our home court,” said Brand, who had a nine-game streak of double-doubles end. “(The Cavs) played last night and I’m sure they were a little tired, so we wanted to hop right on them, play our defensive sets, and Coach had us prepared for them. Every play that they ran, we knew where to be.”
The Heat are 2-1 on their five-game road trip, but coach Stan Van Gundy took the blame for them not being 3-0 after Saturday’s 101-99 defeat to Denver.
Van Gundy used a zone defense with guard Dwyane Wade on the bench, and the Heat erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit. But he did not switch back to a man-to-man defense for the last possession, and a drive-and-dish by Andre Miller led to an open 3-pointer by Earl Boykins for the winning points with 17 seconds to play.
“I’m about ready to hang myself in there. That was an absolutely ridiculous coaching decision,” Van Gundy said. “It was just stupid. Especially when they brought Boykins back in the game. We should have matched up and played our defense. … It was an absolute stupid decision.”
Wade finished with 32 points in 33 minutes for the Heat, who are shooting 49.1 percent (112-for-228) and averaged 97.7 points on the trip. Miami is shooting 45.6 percent and averaging 93.9 points on the road this season.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 4): Heat - 1st place, Southeast Division. Clippers - 1st place (tied), Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Wade, 25.6 ppg and 6.8 apg; Mourning, 8.2 rpg. Clippers - Brand, 24.1 ppg and 10.6 rpg; Cassell, 7.3 apg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 16; Heat, 113-95. At Miami, Damon Jones made eight 3-pointers, and Wade had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 3-5 on the road; Clippers - 6-1 at home.