Heat extend trend of bouncing back after loss
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — On occasion, the Miami Heat lose a game.
Consecutive defeats, well, that hasn’t happened in five months for the reigning NBA champions. And when they lose one game, the next outing typically results in the opponent not just getting beaten, but beaten badly.
Form held for the Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. They lost Game 1 to the San Antonio Spurs — then rolled to a 103-84 win in Game 2, which actually represented a slightly below-average victory margin for Miami in games when it comes off a loss.
“Nothing is guaranteed, but our guys take a lot of pride in what we’re trying to do and winning and what it takes to win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
“When we lose, we all get together and we all own it together, whatever it may be, and we just try to collectively figure it out and come back better. A lot of times those sessions we don’t like each other, but the honesty is what gets to the truth pretty quick.”
It seems to be working.
The Heat lost consecutive games twice in December, then again on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10. Starting with that 92-90 loss in Portland, the Heat are 11-0 after being beaten, and here are the margins of victory, in order: 29, 17, 20, 15, 19, 10, 37, 18, 11, 23 and now 19.
That’s right — every loss for the past five months has been answered by a double-digit win. Average victory margin in those contests: 19.8 points.
“We’re a very humble team and when we make mistakes and when we lose we come in the next day willing to learn,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “We own it and we come out and make the adjustments.”
The win in Game 2 also ensured that Miami would not lose consecutive home games since June 2011, when it happened against Dallas in that season’s NBA Finals.
Miami is 84-14 at home in the past two seasons. By far, that’s the most home wins in the league over that span — just two other clubs have more than 65 home victories since the start of last season — but the Heat home winning percentage of .857 is a touch ahead of second-place San Antonio (75-13, .852).
So now it’s up to the Spurs to respond.
San Antonio finished the regular season on a three-game slide, which in fairness came with the Spurs clearly in playoff-resting mode. Consider that when the Spurs are using something close to their regular rotation, Tim Duncan has played in consecutive losses only twice all season, and both were road-road, back-to-backs in December.
SPEAKING SPURS: By now, much has been said about the international flavor of the San Antonio roster, with players having been born in New Zealand, France, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Belgium, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Canada — along with the United States, of course.
Plenty of languages are spoken in the locker room. Sometimes, even a veteran such as Matt Bonner — who hails from Concord, N.H. — has difficulty keeping up with what’s being said.
“They’re good with English,” Bonner said. “There’s a lot of French being spoken.”
That’s a given, since there’s a record three French players in this series, and an unusually large number of journalists from France are in the U.S. to cover the series.
Tiago Splitter and Manu Ginobili often carry on their locker-room banter in Spanish, Bonner said, which has him wondering why.
“Maybe when they don’t want the other guys to know what they’re saying. I don’t know,” Bonner said. “I always try to butt in with my four-word Spanish vocabulary. Doesn’t get me far.”
Growing up where he did in New England, Bonner said he can speak in a certain regional dialect as well.
“I just learned how to drop my R’s when I need to,” Bonner said.
GREEN’S THREES: San Antonio’s Danny Green made 13 3-pointers, total, in his first two NBA seasons.
He already has nine in the first two games of the NBA Finals.
Green went 4 for 9 from beyond the arc in Game 1 against Miami, then 5 for 5 in Game 2 against the Heat. He’s connected 37 times from 3-point range so far in these playoffs, five away from matching Stephen Curry (who played in 12 playoff games, four fewer than Green so far) for the league postseason lead.
But after Game 2, Green was not in any mood to celebrate his shooting. He lamented not being able to help take more pressure off Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, who excelled in Game 1 and then struggled in the second game of the series.
“Hopefully next game I can continue to help my team when we move the ball and knock down shots and make the game easier for Tony and Timmy,” Green said. “At this point, regardless of the numbers, it was a team loss. We lost.”
LEBRON’S KNEE: Game 2 of the NBA Finals was the 100th Miami Heat game of the season and the 94th appearance for LeBron James, who obviously isn’t feeling as spry now as he was at the start of the season.
He wore a wrap around his knee, fueling speculation of an injury.
After the game, he clarified what happened — it’s not an injury, more of a condition. Turns out, he got a floor burn in Game 1 and chose to wrap the scrape instead of using a bandage.
“I am OK. Don’t worry about me,” James said.
A MINOR DEVELOPMENT: The Heat entered into a single-affiliation partnership with the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Monday, becoming the 13th NBA team to have a 1-to-1 relationship with an NBA Development League club.
The Heat will have full control over the basketball operations of the Skyforce, who adopted Miami’s red, yellow and black color scheme and signature font beginning with next season.
The Heat assigned both Dexter Pitman and Jarvis Varnado last season to the Sioux Falls franchise, which was also affiliated with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers.
“The Miami Heat is a premier franchise in the NBA and we are honored to be their exclusive NBA D-League affiliate,” Skyforce owner/president Mike Heineman said in a statement. “This affiliation will take our franchise to a whole new level on and off the court.”
NOTES: From the strange-but-true department, the Spurs had won nine straight games dating to last season when Tim Duncan plays and scores less than 10 points. He had nine in the Game 2 loss. ... LeBron James has taken 315 shots in the playoffs, finally passing the New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony (310) for the league lead. Remember, Anthony’s season ended two rounds ago in the Eastern Conference semifinals. ... On the online secondary markets, the cheapest seat for Game 3 in San Antonio was listed at $322 on Monday morning, considerably higher than what the minimum in-the-door price was for the first two games in Miami. ... Including playoffs, San Antonio reserve Tracy McGrady — whose career started in 1997 — has scored 19,490 points in his career. Somewhat surprisingly, the 21-foot jumper he missed with about three minutes left in Game 2 of the finals was the first NBA shot he’s ever taken in the month of June. ... Based on overnight ratings, Game 2 on Sunday night is expected to mark the 32nd consecutive time an NBA Finals game has had more viewers than anything else on television at that time. ... Neither team was scheduled to practice Monday.