Duncan leads Spurs past Heat, 111-87
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Led by a no-frills coach, the San Antonio Spurs have long stated the NBA regular season means little to them.
Yet even normally stoic San Antonio couldn’t hide its emotion on the court, and the satisfaction afterward, of toppling the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
Tim Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the Spurs never trailed against the Heat, weathering a sluggish third quarter for an intense 111-87 victory on Thursday.
“I’m sure this has some special meaning, to say something different would be silly,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said, “but we expect them to come out hard and play.”
In their first home game against Miami since losing a heart-wrenching, seven-game NBA Finals, the Spurs handed the Heat their worst loss of the season.
The rematch brought out a raucous sold-out crowd and sparked high emotions from both teams. Players dived recklessly for loose balls and yelled at officials, while Popovich often screamed at his own players.
“We needed a game like this,” the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili said. “We’ve been talking (about it) all season long. Our record was probably 1-10, 1-8 or something like that against the top four teams in the league. So we needed a big one, and today we played well. It’s one of those wins that really gets you going.”
Tony Parker scored 17 points, including 14 in a wild first half, Boris Diaw added 16 and Kawhi Leonard had 11 for the Spurs, who have won five straight.
Chris Bosh had 24 points, LeBron James added 19, Dwyane Wade had 16 and Michael Beasley 11 for Miami.
James, who ditched the protective mask he was wearing early in the first half, was hounded by Leonard into shooting 6 for 18.
In the only other games, the Phoenix Suns erased a 16-point deficit to beat the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder 128-122 with Gerald Green scoring a career-high 41 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers routed the Lakers 142-94 for a season-best sixth win in a row.
This was the Clippers’ largest victory margin over their longtime tormentors, and their sixth victory in the last seven meetings — including a four-game sweep last season.