Leon Wood had big dreams when he left Cal State Fullerton in 1984 to play in the National Basketball Assn.
However, Wood's dream turned into a nightmare after he was cut by the New Jersey Nets last Nov. 5.
Wood, who was waived just one day before the Nets' season-opener, figured that he would have to spend some time riding buses in the Continental Basketball Assn. before another NBA team signed him.
However, he was unemployed for just one week before the San Antonio Spurs signed him last Thursday to replace injured guard Mike Mitchell.
"I didn't think my career was over," Wood said. "But I didn't think I'd be here this soon."
The 6-foot 3-inch, 185-pound guard has made an immediate impact.
Wood came off the bench to hit two free throws with six seconds left in overtime as the Spurs edged the Clippers, 122-121, Tuesday night before 8,892 fans at the Hemisfair Arena.
"No, I wasn't nervous," said Wood after he sank two foul shots to break the Spurs' two-game losing streak. He wound up with 15 points. "I just happened to have a good game against my hometown team. I can't explain it."
Clipper guard Mike Woodson had trouble explaining why he fouled Wood on a shot that he had little chance of making.
"It was a bonehead play," said Woodson, who scored 27 points. "I've got to take the blame for this one. We played very well as a team, but I made a bonehead play by fouling Leon Wood at the end.
"I thought I went straight up, but he (Wood) drew contact with his body."
Said Clipper Coach Gene Shue of the play: "That was unfortunate. Michael didn't want to foul him. Leon going to his left to take an off-balance shot was the perfect situation for us. It was exactly what you want to happen. I know Michael didn't want to foul him. It just happened."
The Clippers, with rookie forward Reggie Williams scoring 33 points, played their best game of the season in the loss.
They led, 121-120, after guard Larry Drew, who scored 19 points, sank a 21-foot jumper with 1:12 left in the 5-minute overtime period.
And it looked as though Los Angeles had the game wrapped up after San Antonio guard Johnny Dawkins missed a desperation three-point shot with 46 seconds left and Williams grabbed the rebound.
However, the Spurs got another chance after Woodson missed an off-balance jumper in traffic while trying to beat the 24-second clock with 23 seconds remaining on the game clock.
"We broke down on the play." Woodson said.
The Spurs called time out with 12 seconds left to set up a play.
Guard Alvin Robertson inbounded the ball to Dawkins, who set up Wood.
"Johnny got the ball at the top of the key, and he penetrated to the basket and got it back out to me," Wood said. "I pump faked on Woodson and he happened to go up with me.
"He didn't mean to foul me. But he leaned into me and I had the advantage. And I gave it a little yell just to make sure I got the call."
Shue had asked center Benoit Benjamin to call a timeout after Wood's second free throw, but there was a mix-up and Benjamin called time after Wood hit the first shot.
"I would have called time out before I went to the line," Wood said.
However, Los Angeles had another timeout, and the Clippers used it after Wood made the second shot.
Shue designed a play in which Williams would try to set up forward Michael Cage under the basket for a layup.
However, the Clippers never got off a shot.
The Spurs double-teamed Williams after he took the inbounds pass, and rookie Greg (Cadillac) Anderson knocked the ball loose. Clipper forward Joe Wolf tied up Anderson to force a jump ball.
"We needed the win and I had it in my mind to do whatever was needed to win," said Anderson, who scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in 35 minutes off the bench. "I was pretty relaxed on the offensive end and tonight I think it paid off. I felt I had a good game. Guarding Reggie is pretty darned tough. I think a lot of other players around the league will find that out soon."
The Spurs won the tip and the game.
"When I turned I was blinded," Williams said. "The ball hit Anderson's leg and went out of my hands to Wolf.
"It was a very tough game to lose. We had the game. We just let it get away. But we can't dwell on it."
Williams and the Clippers would rather remember what they did right.
Trailing 109-102 with 3 minutes and 59 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Clippers scored seven consecutive points to send the game into overtime.
Benjamin hit a layup with 22 seconds left in regulation to tie the score, 109-109, and force an overtime.
Benjamin played a solid game. The 7-0 center scored 18 points and hauled down 11 rebounds. He also blocked 8 shots, tying his career high.