Spurs rout Heat in Parker's return
SAN ANTONIO (AP)
This wasn't it.
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This wasn't even close.
In the most lopsided loss this season for LeBron James and Miami, the Spurs crushed the Eastern Conference contenders in humiliating fashion, winning 125-95 on Friday night and handing the slumping Heat their fourth loss in five games.
''We basically got blitzed,'' Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Manu Ginobili led the NBA-best Spurs (51-11) with 20 points. He scored 11 of those during a runaway first quarter that left the Heat looking as rattled as they did Thursday night, when they blew a 24-point lead in a stunning loss to Orlando.
After only the first quarter in San Antonio, the Heat were already down 24.
Tony Parker made a surprise return to the starting lineup and had 15 points and eight assists, less than a week after the Spurs feared their point guard might miss up to a month with a strained calf muscle.
Popovich joked that his French star's quick turnaround was thanks to a ''foie grois and truffle'' treatment that really worked.
The Heat? They weren't in such a light mood.
Miami's previous worst loss was a 28-point blowout against Denver on Jan. 13. That came in the midst of the Heat's last meltdown, when they were stuck in another stretch of losing four of five.
Here they go again.
''We're still a confident bunch,'' James said. ''We know it's a tough stretch for us right now. We lost three games in a row, but I feel like all it takes is one win.''
James scored 26 points and Dwyane Wade had 19. It won't get much easier for the Heat, who return home to play Chicago on Sunday. Then they'll face Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis before hosting the Spurs on March 14.
San Antonio isn't getting a break, either. The Spurs have another tough one Sunday against the Lakers.
But unlike the Heat, things couldn't be going better for the Spurs.
''It's just better when the best teams come in here and you can really lock in and see what we have,'' Spurs forward Tim Duncan said.
San Antonio hit a franchise-record 17 3-pointers, including eight in the first quarter. Matt Bonner was 4 of 4 and Ginobili went 3 for 4.
So stunning was the lopsided surge that the typically reserved Duncan mouthed ''game over'' while the Heat sulked to the bench after calling another timeout.
It was still the first quarter.
''That's a ridiculous night as far as 3s go,'' Popovich said. ''It's very rare. We had it tonight and we're thankful for it. It made for a wonderful night.''
Spoelstra preached ''adversity'' and ''collective resolve'' with reporters before the game. He said that following the Heat's incredible collapse against Orlando on Thursday night, team president Pat Riley joined him in trying to brainstorm ways to get the team out of another funk.
Instead, they came up speechless.
''Part of the conversation was ... just sitting there, in silence, while both of us were trying to think about what we can do next,'' Spoelstra said.
San Antonio, meanwhile, crossed another opponent off its list.
Beating the revamped Heat in their first meeting left the Spurs with a victory over every NBA team this season except Boston - which extended its East lead over the Heat to three games.
The Spurs host the Celtics on March 31.
Bonner finished with 18 points and Duncan had 11 points and 14 rebounds. Richard Jefferson scored 11 points and DeJuan Blair had 10 as every Spurs starter was in double figures.
Gary Neal added 14 points off the bench.
The Spurs extended their franchise-record home winning streak to 22 games. It's just another milestone in what is so far the best regular season in team history.
Chris Bosh had 17 points and Mike Miller 12 for the Heat. Erik Dampier, making his sixth straight start, had no points and two rebounds before being ejected for shoving Parker hard to the ground in the third quarter.
Maybe it was frustration.
''We don't want to hear anything about that's not going to happen this year for us, or it takes a long time for championship teams to be built,'' Spoelstra said before tipoff. ''Or it takes battles or the proverbial wars together.''
NOTES: The Spurs signed F Steve Novak for the remainder of the season. ... Texas Gov. Rick Perry sat courtside with Spurs owner Peter Holt.