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Clippers spoil Rothstein's return as Heat coach

Jan 4, 2007 - 4:54 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Ron Rothstein took over the Miami Heat in time to see Elton Brand have a terrific outing.

Brand scored 28 points and Chris Kaman added 20 to lead six players in double figures as the Los Angeles Clippers posted a 110-95 victory over the Heat.

Miami played its first game under Rothstein, who took over as interim coach earlier Wednesday after Pat Riley announced he was taking a leave of absence because of hip and knee problems. The franchise's first coach in 1988, he is 57-190 with the Heat.

"I struggled a little bit with a couple of things, especially the play-calling," Rothstein said. "The guys were helping me out. We had 51 (points) at the half. We were scoring decently. That was really, really frustrating."

Riley, 61, took over for Stan Van Gundy midway through last season and guided the Heat to the league championship, the fifth of his career and first since 1988 with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is the third-winningest coach in league history with 1,164 victories.

"I just couldn't take the pain and medication," Riley said. "And so I'm going to have surgery on my knee Friday, and I'll have to prepare myself a bit more for the hip thing."

After a 15-point outing in Tuesday's 91-86 loss to the Orlando Magic, Brand hit 6-of-8 shots and scored 19 points in the first half as Los Angeles took a 61-51 lead at the break.

"(Brand) is playing very well right now," Clipers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "Last year, he was one of the top one or two power forwards in the whole league. We got off to a bit of a slow start, but he (has) really picked it up for us."

The Clippers broke open the contest with a 30-13 burst in the third quarter, widening the margin to 91-64. Brand scored seven points and Kaman and Shaun Livingston added five each during the period.

"You just can't let people shoot in your face all night and not do something about it," Rothstein said. "They shot (61) percent. I liked the way we kept playing. We did a little something in the fourth quarter, but let's be real, it was a little after the fact."

Robert Hite gave Miami some spark by scoring nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers, to cut the deficit to 100-82 with 7:09 to play. However, Brand, Kaman and Livingston hit jumpers to offset the comeback bid.

"(Alonzo Mourning) does a great job defensively for their team, so you've got to be aware of where he's at," Kaman said. "You just try and bang him. I thought they might let me go 1-on-1 with him, and they did early, so I thought I'd try and take advantage of the opportunity and I was successful."

"It's a struggle right now," Hite said after Miami fell to 13-18. "We have a lot of people down and out. We're just trying to maintain and get back to .500 until our go-to guys come back."

Corey Maggette scored 16 points, Quinton Ross added 13 and Livingston and Daniel Ewing 12 each for the Clippers, who raised their road record to 3-11.

"We did what we had to do," Dunleavy said. "Defensively, we were very good for most of the game against a team that was very shorthanded. Obviously, it's a game we're supposed to win."

Jason Kapono scored 19 points and Hite and Mourning added 16 apiece for Miami, which lost its fourth straight game.

Reigning Finals MVP Dwayne Wade missed his third straight game for the Heat with an injured wrist.

"We actually prepared as if Dwyane Wade was playing, and we knew (Shaquille O'Neal) was out for sure," Brand said. "You don't want to be surprised and find a prolific scorer like Dwyane is out there."

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