Coming into their Monday night game against the Heat, San Antonio Spurs players and coaches agreed that defense and matching Miami’s intensity would be crucial to the contest, but as the 110-80 final score indicates, neither of the two happened.
No doubt remembering their 30-point embarrassment less than two weeks ago against the same Spurs, Miami put together their third impressive win in as many games, with Monday’s pasting against a hapless Spurs team being their best effort during that stretch.
The drama over Miami’s recent 5-game losing streak is now history, with the Heat scoring impressive wins over the Lakers, Grizzlies and now the Spurs. The much-celebrated trio of Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and LeBron James combined for 80 points against San Antonio’s porous defense.
“It feels good to get some wins,” said James. “The expectation of us playing at a high level every night was wearing on us a bit,” he added, according to MySA.
Miami toyed with the Spurs in the opening minutes of the game before taking the lead, 18-16, on a Mario Chalmers layup that gave the Heat a 7-0 run. The Spurs would play ineffective catch-up ball for the rest of the night, as the Heat methodically increased their lead to 30 points by game’s end.
Miami’s 24-9 home court record coming into the game was a testament, in part, to its home crowd. On Monday, a sellout crowd of 20,021 did their part to make sure the Spurs were never a factor.
With the loss, the staggering Spurs have now lost three of their last eight games in blowout fashion, all to playoff-bound teams. Sandwiched between two of those losses were mediocre performances in wins undecided until the closing seconds against Detroit and Sacramento, teams with losing records. It was the fifth worst loss for the Spurs during the Tim Duncan era.
Numbers do not lie, and with the Spurs play of late, everyone associated with the organization is likely to be asking on Tuesday morning how the team has managed to put together the league’s best record, now standing at 54-13. If they are not asking, they should be.
After the Lakers whipped the Spurs four games ago, tinkering with the starting lineup was seen by the coaching staff as a possible solution to the team’s woes since the All-Star break. Monday’s effort against Miami has only compounded problems facing the team yet to find its stride. With 15 games remaining in the regular season, including match-ups against the Lakers, Boston, Denver and Dallas, it goes without saying the Spurs have a challenge ahead of them.
After hitting 17 3-pointers in their previous meeting with Miami, the Spurs missed their first 5 attempts beyond the arc before Richard Jefferson connected to pull the Spurs within three just before the end of one.
The Heat closed out the first quarter on an 11-3 run, taking a 22-19 lead into the second quarter.
San Antonio’s cold shooting continued into the second quarter, including Manu Ginobili’s five straight misses, and combined with Miami’s pick-and-rolls, went on a 10-2 run after a Bosh tip-in made it 36-25.
On Miami’s home court, the Spurs first visit to the free throw line in the game came at the 2:17 mark of the second quarter, when Duncan split a pair.
San Antonio could not find the basket in the second quarter and their inability to get to the line were factors in Miami’s 49-39 lead going into intermission. The Spurs went 1-for-10 from 3-point land in the first half, and hit 1-of-2 free throw attempts.
Adding to those woes, the Spurs defense continued with its missing-in-action performance, allowing Miami to score at will.
Dwayne Wade was sensational in the first half, scoring 15 points. He picked up in the third quarter where he left off, scoring in the opening seconds after intermission. Miami had a 53-39 lead a minute into the second half and made sure it would be a long flight back to San Antonio for the Spurs.
Back-to-back slam dunks by James and Wade near the beginning of the final quarter put Miami up by 20, 85-65, and if there were any Spurs fans still clinging to hope, Miami’s home crowd had no doubts.
After a Duncan basket gave the Spurs a 7-0 run, cutting the lead to 87-72, Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra used a timeout to settle his team so it could put the finishing touch on the rout. That led to a James basket, 89-72.
Despite the blowout that began midway through the first quarter, Popovich opted to keep his regular rotation players in the game deep into the fourth quarter. Only with the score 97-73 near the 3:00 minute mark did some of his bench players begin to see playing time.
The Spurs shot 38 percent from the field for the game, including 6-of-22 from 3-point land. They were out-rebounded 47-33. Tony Parker led the team with 18 points. Duncan scored 14, Ginobili added 12, and Antonio McDyess, in his fourth consecutive game as a starter, scored 10.
Miami was led by Bosh’s double-double, 30 points and 12 rebounds. He was followed by Wade’s 29 points and 9 rebounds. James added 21 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds.
With three full days off before a statement game against the Mavericks on Friday in Dallas, the Spurs have plenty of time for soul-searching and a decision on just how likely they think advancing in the playoffs without contributing a legitimate defense to their game will carry them.