LOS ANGELES (AP)—Pat Riley felt a whole lot better after his 1,200th regular-season victory as an NBA coach than he did Sunday morning when he brought the Miami Heat into Staples Center with a five-game losing streak.
“Two nights ago when I got here from Golden State,” Riley said, “I was feeling a little bit low. OK? My wife’s in town, and I went to the 19th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel at about 1:30 in the morning. I was out on the balcony looking down at Wilshire Boulevard, and she said: `Honey, don’t do it. It’s not worth it.’ … The value of an NBA wife.”
Riley is the third NBA coach to win 1,200 games, and he reached it in his 1,842nd game. That’s 248 faster than Don Nelson, the next fastest. Riley, in his 24th season as a coach, guided the Lakers to four NBA titles before winning another with the Heat two seasons ago.
“It’s those kind of moments that you’ll always remember, good and bad,” said Riley, coach of the years with three organizations. “The first 600 (533) were here in Los Angeles—a lot of great players, guys. You know all of them. Dwyane thinks I’m extinct, but that’s OK. That’s what he said to me in there.”
Corey Maggette had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who have lost eight of their last nine games.
Fourteen-time All-Star Shaquille O’Neal got his first up-close look at the new-and-improved Chris Kaman, who is well on his way to a breakthrough season while Elton Brand recovers from offseason surgery to repair a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon.
“It’s always a touch matchup with someone like that because you have to bring a double-team, and that leaves someone else open,” Kaman said. “He’s just so big. When you try to go into the middle and shoot a jumper, he doesn’t have to move very far to catch up with you if you beat him on the first step.”
Kaman, an early favorite for the league’s most improved player, won the statistical matchup between the 7-foot centers with 14 points and 12 rebounds. It was his 15th double-double, one more than he had in 75 games last season. He is averaging 18.5 points and 13.6 boards.
“We came into the league in the same draft class. I knew he was good then, but he’s even better now,” Wade said. “Every year he’s getting better and better, and this year he’s having a career year. He’s got a bright future.”
O’Neal, who complained publicly during the week about not getting the ball enough from his teammates, was 4-for-8 from the field and finished with eight points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes. He spent the final 1:07 on the bench while Alonzo Mourning helped Miami make some key defensive stops—including a block of Maggette’s layup.
“Zo is a little more mobile than Shaq right now,” Riley said. “You could see that Shaq was laboring a little bit because of his thigh, so he was dragging his leg around doing the best job he could do. He’s a shot blocker, he’s a big body and everybody knows he’s coming. He gives our players confidence because he can get up there and he has such good timing.”
Trailing by 10 after Ricky Davis’ 3-point play with 6 1/2 minutes to play, the Clippers ran off 10 straight points to tie it at 90-all with 3:29 left. Tim Thomas capped the rally with a pair of 3-pointers 31 seconds apart, but the Clippers struggled after that as Maggette, Cuttino Mobley and Kaman all missed layups in the final 1 1/2 minutes.
Wade ended the first-half scoring with a vicious slam dunk over Kaman, pulling Miami into a 51-all tie. Miami opened the third quarter with a 22-6 spurt that gave them their biggest lead, 73-57, with 4:49 left in the period. Wade helped fuel the rally with eight points, including a 19-footer that capped the run.
Point guard Jason Williams, who sprained his right ankle in the first half of Friday’s game, missed his first game of the season and is expected to sit out at least a couple more. Chris Quinn started in Williams’ place and scored 13 points in a career-high 40 minutes after spending the last three games on the bench due to a coach’s decision.
Lenny Wilkens leads all coaches with 1,332 victories. … Mourning was stern-faced before the game after hearing about Sunday morning’s shooting incident involving Indiana Pacers G Jamaal Tinsley. “You’ve got to understand that we all are vulnerable when it comes to putting ourselves in situations where the public has access to us. And if we go out and flaunt and expose our luxuries, there are some jealous people out there who want it and put us in a position where we’re targets,” Mourning said. “I’m not saying you’ve got to hide it, but don’t be flamboyant. Don’t walk into a club with a crowd of people wearing a $250,000 chain around your neck or pull out a wad of hundreds for everybody to see. Pull out a credit card instead. I mean, you’re asking for attention and you’re asking for trouble.”