In opening this season with their worst start in six years, the Miami Heat have found a number of different ways to lose. The latest may have been the most disheartening.
After blowing an 11-point fourth-quarter lead to drop their season high-tying fifth straight game, the Heat look to snap that skid when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Miami (4-15) had to expect some early struggles with star guard Dwyane Wade sidelined for the start of the season while recovering from offseason knee and shoulder surgeries. Wade missed the team's 1-6 start, but the Heat have gone just 3-9 since his return.
They're 4-15 for the first time since 2001-02 and haven't had a worse start since their first season in the league in 1988-89, when they opened 0-17 and were just 1-18 through 19 games.
Miami hasn't dropped six in a row since losing the first seven games in 2003-04 -- Wade's rookie season.
The Heat were in position to get their fifth win on Friday night, but were outscored 38-22 in the fourth quarter of a 120-113 loss at Golden State. Miami couldn't pull off the win despite leading by as many as 18 points, shooting 49.4 percent to Golden State's 41.5 and outrebounding the Warriors 57-40.
"It's a matter of finishing," said Wade, who had a season-high 33 points and added 10 assists. "Golden State is a team that is really playing well but we should have found a way to win this game."
Heat center Shaquille O'Neal sat out the entire fourth quarter, finishing with 13 points and 10 rebounds on 6-for-6 shooting in just 21 minutes despite staying out of foul trouble.
The 35-year-old has been criticized for his diminishing skills and sub-par conditioning, but he blames a lack of opportunities for his career-low 14.9 scoring average. O'Neal is averaging career lows in minutes (27.5) and field-goal attempts (10.5) despite shooting a career-best 60.3 percent. He has fewer than 10 shots in each of his last six games, and has played less than 23 minutes in five of those contests.
Heat coach Pat Riley said after Friday's game that he regretted keeping O'Neal out for the fourth quarter.
Riley's Heat will try again to snap their skid when they meet the Clippers (7-11), who are coming off their first win in eight games.
Los Angeles beat Sacramento 97-87 on Friday to halt a seven-game losing streak -- its longest since dropping eight in a row Feb. 4-23, 2005.
Chris Kaman tied a career high with 26 points on Friday, and added 12 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots while shooting 9-for-12 from the field. He missed a free throw late in the game that would've given him a new career best.
"I didn't really know what was going on with that (career high), but had I known I probably would have made it," said Kaman, who notched his 14th double-double of the season. "It was just nice to get a darn win."
Kaman averaged just 10.1 points and 7.8 rebounds in a disappointing 2006-07 season, but has flourished with Clippers forward Elton Brand sidelined after offseason surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles' tendon. Kaman is averaging 18.8 points and 13.8 boards, easily topping his previous career highs of 11.9 and 9.6 -- set in 2005-06.
Kaman had a season high-tying 20 points as the Clippers swept their season series against the Heat in 2006-07 with a 110-95 win in Miami on Jan. 3. Wade and O'Neal missed that game because of injuries.