This Time, Clippers Lose the Hardaway


“Hardaway for President!” read the homemade sign the teenage Miami Heat fan held aloft during a timeout in Tuesday night’s game against the Clippers.

Heat guard Tim Hardaway won’t win a presidential election, but he could be voted the NBA’s comeback player of the year.

Hardaway had 26 points, 13 assists, three rebounds and four steals as the Heat handed the Clippers their fourth consecutive defeat, 97-87, before 14,981 at Miami Arena.


“He’s having an MVP year,” Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said of Hardaway, who ranks among the NBA leaders in scoring and assists.

The Clippers, who have lost the first four games of a seven-game trip, are in eighth place in the Western Conference, two games ahead of the Sacramento Kings with 10 games left.

“Any time you lose, it gets to you,” Sealy said. “We’ve got to get something out of this trip. We don’t want to go 0-for-the-trip.”

Playing without starting center Lorenzen Wright and reserve guard Pooh Richardson, who returned to Los Angeles on Monday night for the birth of their children, the Clippers had only 10 players in uniform. And one of them, center Rich Manning, was signed to a 10-day contract hours before the game.

But forward Loy Vaught, starting at center for the first time in his NBA career, held his own against Heat center Alonzo Mourning.

Vaught had 24 points and 11 rebounds in 47 minutes, while Mourning had 17 points and 12 rebounds in 42 minutes.


“You can’t measure [how much the Clippers missed Wright],” Fitch said. “We could have used another body to rebound. I guess you’re better off with your whole team than just parts of it.”

Despite getting off to a slow start, Vaught made 12 of 20 shots on the night.

“It was an adjustment,” Vaught said of playing center. “It felt weird at first, but after I got settled in I actually liked it better. Post defense is more body position instead of having to move your feet and keeping up with guys on the outside. I like that better.

“But it was tough. Alonzo is a big strong guy and he definitely wore me out.”

Lamond Murray replaced Vaught at forward, starting his first game of the season.

Murray made only one of five shots and had two points and four rebounds, but the Clipper reserves made up for it, outscoring their Heat counterparts, 35-5.

Given more playing time because the Clippers were shorthanded, swingman Eric Piatkowski made all three of his three-point shots and had 15 points, two rebounds and two assists in a season-high 31 minutes and guard Terry Dehere scored nine of his 12 points during a 15-0 Clipper spurt in the second quarter.

Trailing by 14 points at the start of the fourth quarter, the Clippers outscored the Heat, 21-11, to get to within four points with 3:27 remaining. But Heat guard Voshon Lenard made a three-point shot and two free throws as the Heat ended the game with a 10-4 spurt.

Lenard had 26 points as the Heat backcourt outscored Clipper guards Malik Sealy and Darrick Martin, 52-19.


“I guess it came down to us making stupid plays,” Piatkowski said. “We made some stupid plays at the beginning and got down big. We got back in the game and three of four trips down the floor we did some stupid things. We were complaining about fouls and they came down and hit some big shots. You have to take advantage once you come back like that.”