Year by Year: 1988-89
1988-89: Victory Hard to Come By
The HEAT lost their first NBA game, 111-91, to the Los Angeles Clippers on November 5 before a Miami Arena sellout crowd of 15,008. The starting lineup was Rory Sparrow, Edwards, Seikaly, Pat Cummings, and Thompson. A minute into the game, Sparrow hit a jump shot to record the first points in HEAT history.
There was nothing unusual about that opening loss-it happens all the time to new teams. But then the club kept losing. It lost at home and away; it lost close games (96-94, to the Sacramento Kings) and blowouts (138-91, to the Los Angeles Lakers). On December 10 the Chicago Bulls hammered the HEAT, 111-88, and put Miami in the all-time record book for the most defeats ever at the start of a season, with 16. The previous mark had been shared by three teams:
the Denver Nuggets in 1949 (that franchise folded after one season); the Cleveland Cavaliers, in their expansion season of 1970; and Philadelphia in 1972, on its way to the worst won-lost mark in NBA history (9-73).
After 17 consecutive defeats, the team's first victory came on December 14 as Miami squeaked by the Clippers, 89-88. The HEAT struggled through another 10-game losing skid into mid-January. Overall, January was a rough month, with the HEAT chilling to 1-13. February and March brought progress, as the team improved to 9-20 for the two months and delivered some decent performances. On February 20 Kevin Edwards posted the HEAT's highest individual scoring effort of the season when he poured in 34 points against the New Jersey Nets.
Miami had its most productive outing of the year on March 10 with a 131-130 double-overtime victory against Denver. In late March the team put together a modest three-game winning streak, its longest of the campaign, but immediately relapsed into a 2-12 skein to end the schedule. An individual highlight came on April 18 when guard Rory Sparrow posted the first triple-double in HEAT history by scoring 24 points, dishing out 10 assists, and pulling down 10 rebounds in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Miami managed only 97.8 points per game, led by Edwards with 13.8 points per contest. Opponents poured in 109.0 points per game. The team MVP was dependable all-around performer Grant Long, who played in all 82 games and averaged 11.9 points and 6.7 rebounds. Edwards was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.