The Miami Heat finally ended its 51/2 weeks of futility and frustration.
"I'm just thrilled to finally get a win we deserved," Coach Ron Rothstein said after the Heat beat the Los Angeles Clippers 89-88 Wednesday night to end its record 17-game losing streak."We've been in about six games this season that could have gone either way, and I thought at least three of those should have been ours," Rothstein said. "I'm just sorry the first win didn't come for the fans in Miami."
Six of Miami's losses have come by six or fewer points.
"The fact that we hung in there is all that matters," Rothstein said. "It's a milestone day for our franchise and the city of Miami. It hasn't been easy, but we've got a great group, a group of resilient young men and some great veterans."
Pat Cummings scored 15 points and Jon Sundvold 14, the bulk of them in the second half as the Heat built a 12-point lead, then held off the Clippers in the final two minutes.
Grant Long and Billy Thompson also scored 15 points for the Heat, whose losing streak began at the hands of the Clippers on Nov. 5. The 17-game drought was the longest in league history from the start of the season.
The streak was three games short of tying the record for most consecutive losses in a season, 20, by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1972-73.
"It's great, just exciting," Long said about ending the drought. "It feels like we can go on and get the next one. Our confidence level is high."
Rothstein said the Heat's "biggest problem is a lapse in concentration - you get that with young players. Tonight, we did the best job yet of playing wire to wire."
Danny Manning and Quintin Dailey helped the Clippers fight back from a deficit that reached 72-60 late in the third quarter.
Cummings' jumper with 1:59 left gave the Heat an 87-84 lead, but Manning retaliated with a layup 13 seconds later. Rory Sparrow's long jumper with 1:29 left was matched by Manning, and again the Heat led by just one point.
Miami's defense forced Norm Nixon to take a 17-foot jumper from the right side, which missed with just two seconds left. Miami grabbed the rebound and immediately began celebrating its first victory as the entire team raced to the center of the court.