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The NBA : Heat, Near Record, Still Stuck at Zero in Miami

As the National Basketball Assn. season moves into its second month, the expansion Miami Heat has expanded its losing streak to 13 games. The Heat is only 2 losses away from equaling the league record for most losses at the start of a season, held by 3 teams.

Looking ahead, the Heat figures to be in a good (bad?) position to break the record, matched most recently by the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. If the Heat doesn’t beat the Sacramento Kings (2-10) at Miami Wednesday night, Miami might be in for a winless December as well. It could tie the record with a home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, then break it Saturday in Chicago, at the start of a 4-game trip.

Coach Ron Rothstein, when asked before the season to reveal specifics on his contract, said: “I had a great lawyer who negotiated it. In my contract, it says 3 wins.”

A single-digit victory total may be realistic this season. Whereas the Charlotte Hornets, the NBA’s other expansion team, signed many veterans, the Heat chose to build slowly with young talent. At one point, four rookies started.

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Asked if the thought of setting that kind of record is preying on his mind, Rothstein said: “To quote one former NBA player, I’m amphibious to the whole situation.”

The Miami fans have not been amphibious, er, oblivious to the Heat’s struggles, but they so far have shown restraint and patience. The Heat has sold out 5 of its 7 home games, and the only time the club was booed was during a 4-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

“Ain’t that something,” veteran player Scott Hastings wrote in his weekly column for the Miami Herald. “It could be a long season if that’s the way they will always react to us. . . . But maybe they just don’t like what I’m writing.”

That unwritten NBA officiating policy of giving star players a little slack when it comes to fouls was cited again when the Houston Rockets complained that Akeem Olajuwon was not getting his due respect from officials.

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Ray Patterson, the Rockets’ general manager, spoke with Darrell Garretson, chief of officials, about the perceived slight. Said Rocket Coach Don Chaney: “They are not treating (Olajuwon) like a star. He’s among the league leaders in every category, and he’s getting treated like a first-year player. People come to those games to see the stars. But Akeem is getting beaten to death on one end and doesn’t get a call. Then, he goes down to the other end and gets a foul for a little thump.”

Piston center William Bedford, who has twice been treated for a drug problem, apparently is close to being released from the NBA-sponsored facility in Van Nuys.

When he rejoins the team, it may present a few problems in Detroit since insiders say that no one on the Pistons wants him back. That’s mostly because Darryl Dawkins, a favorite among Piston players, is the most likely to be released.

A sure sign that Bedford’s return is imminent occurred last week, when General Manager Jack McCloskey messaged other NBA clubs, asking if anyone had an interest in acquiring either Dawkins or rookies Fennis Dembo or Michael Williams.

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Those wondering why a majority of NBA general managers voted Golden State Warriors guard Mitch Richmond as the league’s most promising rookie, ahead of the Clippers’ Danny Manning and Charles Smith, had only to watch Tuesday night’s game between the Warriors and Chicago Bulls.

Richmond outscored Michael Jordan, 27-26, in a Warrior victory. It was the first time in 91 games that Jordan did not lead the Bulls in scoring (Brad Sellers led the way with 32). The last time was Dec. 1, 1987, when Jordan was held to 16 points by the Warriors.

“Mitch is the best rookie I’ve seen this season,” said Chicago Coach Doug Collins, whose team has also played the Clippers.

Dick Motta is only an unpleasant memory for Dallas forward Mark Aguirre, but now it appears that all is not well between Aguirre and Maverick Coach John MacLeod.

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Last Thursday, in Dallas’ loss to the Rockets, Aguirre sat out the last 17 minutes of his worst offensive game since 1984. Aguirre scored 8 points, a season low, making just 3 of 10 shots.

When he was pulled in the third quarter, Aguirre put on his warmup jacket, buttoned it all the way to the top and didn’t talk with anyone the rest of the game. He bolted from the locker room before reporters entered.

Said MacLeod: “I felt like he wasn’t having a good game. He could have played. It was my decision.”

Ralph Sampson, continued: The Warrior center, whose game has been severely affected by knee injuries, invoked a period of silence for about 24 hours last week.

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Earlier, Sampson told a Portland writer that he might pull himself from the lineup for a rest if his knees did not get better soon. When the story ran, Sampson claimed he was misquoted. Warrior management persuaded Sampson to resume media relations.


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