Clippers finally turn off the Heat

Dillman is a Times staff writer.

Win No. 3 would simply not come easily for the Clippers.

If anything, it was a metaphor for the first 15 games of their season. Injuries, illness . . . and outright strangeness in the last seven or so seconds.

It was an excruciating last seven seconds of the game for Clippers fans, who had to endure a prolonged wait after game officials huddled and came up with one decision and then huddled again, changing their minds.

They ultimately decided that Heat star Dwyane Wade had made contact with an official and caused an inadvertent whistle. Wade had collided after he picked off Baron Davis’ attempted pass to Al Thornton with 7.2 seconds left.


This set things in motion for something truly ominous: the ball in Wade’s hands for the potential winning shot. Only this time, the off-balance three-point shot fell short and the Clippers hung on to defeat the Miami Heat, 97-96, on Saturday night at Staples Center.

All that means is that they are 3-13.

“Right or wrong, I heard the whistle blow and thought we had the ball back,” said Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy of the controversial last play. “But I guess the call was that there was an inadvertent whistle caused by the contact.

“The bottom line was we ended up getting the stops, getting the win.”

It seemed as though Wade, who had 26 points, and the Clippers’ Zach Randolph (27 points and 13 rebounds) found themselves in the middle of every important play in the last 5 1/2 minutes.

Randolph scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, going three for three from the field, and he pulled down three rebounds. It was his second game with the Clippers since arriving from New York in a four-player deal on Nov. 21.

His biggest moments on offense came in about a span of a minute late in the fourth quarter when he completed a three-point play to put the Clippers ahead, 87-86, and then made a 23-foot three-pointer to make it 90-86.

As always, there was the usual assortment of injuries and ailments befalling the Clippers.

Rookie guard Eric Gordon left the game in the third quarter because of a sore right hamstring and did not return. Marcus Camby appeared to injure his right foot with less than five minutes left.

Then there was the spreading stomach virus moving from Brian Skinner and Jason Hart and hitting Baron Davis, who skipped the morning shoot-around and was considered doubtful.

Davis played and looked off-kilter until the fourth quarter.

In all, he had 15 points and nine assists and shot six for 21.

Additionally, the Clippers were hit with another blow -- an injury, of course -- as center Chris Kaman’s sore left foot will keep him out of the lineup for one to two weeks.

It is being called a strained left arch, and he will miss the team’s coming four-game trip. Kaman thought he would probably stay behind in Los Angeles to treat the foot. He could be sidelined through mid-December. An MRI exam on Friday revealed small tears.

“It’s just pretty sore right now,” Kaman said. “I’m just going to have to give it the proper rest time to come back full strength. Because if I keep playing on it, it just keeps beating it up. It progressively got worse from the time I injured it against Oklahoma to now.

“I was limited in my rebounding a little bit. It was kind of frustrating.”

Of all things, Kaman said he thought he injured it when he stepped on a cameraman’s leg, behind the baseline, at Oklahoma City on Nov. 19.

Typical Clipper karma.