MIAMI (AP) Dwyane Wade came off the bench for the first time in more than six years. The Larry O’Brien Trophy wasn’t at stake. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sported a casual, no-tie look.
An NBA Finals rematch, yes. An NBA Finals replay, it was not.
Either way, it still wound up going how the Miami Heat wanted.
Chris Bosh scored 24 points on 9 for 10 shooting – making him 17 for his last 18 from the floor – and LeBron James added 18 points as the Heat rolled past the San Antonio Spurs 113-101 on Sunday, never trailing and leading by as many as 29 points along the way.
”Did that feel like The Finals? No, it did not feel like The Finals,” is how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra opened his postgame remarks, without anyone even asking the question.
Mario Chalmers scored 16 points for Miami, which used Wade as a reserve for the first time since Jan. 6, 2008. Wade – an All-Star starter again this season – had not played in any of Miami’s most recent four games while dealing with ongoing knee rehabilitation, and finished with eight points and five assists in 24 minutes.
Wade said not starting was his idea, and seemed generally pleased with his first game in nine days.
”I’ve only had one practice in a while,” Wade said. ”Team was in a good groove. I wanted to work my way into my rhythm.”
Michael Beasley scored 12, Norris Cole scored 11 and Ray Allen added 10 for Miami (32-12). Spoelstra said afterward that nothing is set in stone about Wade’s status going forward.
”It was just good to have him out there,” Spoelstra said.
Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 23 points. Boris Diaw added 15, Marco Belinelli scored 12 and Tony Parker finished with 11 for the Spurs, who were without three players who played key roles in last year’s Finals. Kawhi Leonard (hand), Danny Green (hand) and Tiago Splitter (shoulder) all remain sidelined for San Antonio (33-11), which lost for just the fourth time in 20 road games.
”Everybody has injuries. You have to deal with them during the season,” said Parker, who jammed a finger Sunday but didn’t seem concerned. ”Obviously, it’s hurting us but they’re going to come back. We just have to keep pushing and try to get better.”
The game was tied at 44 late in the first half. Before long, it was a runaway.
Miami closed the second quarter with a 14-6 spurt, outscored San Antonio 33-21 in the third and opened the fourth on a 13-4 run, just in case there was any remaining doubt, which hardly seems likely.
Add it up, and over a 20-minute stretch the two-time defending champs outscored the Spurs 60-31.
”They kind of got in a comfort zone,” Duncan said. ”Obviously a very good team and very good at what they do, just didn’t get them off their game at all.”
Sunday’s game was the first official meeting between the teams since Miami won Game 7 of last season’s Finals. San Antonio visited Miami in the preseason, a night where the title rematch was the only thing really worth talking about, but at least the Spurs didn’t have to see Miami’s third championship banner hanging from the rafters of AmericanAirlines Arena that night.
”Obviously, it brought back memories, for sure,” James said. ”But it’s a regular-season game where both teams were trying to get better.”
The third quarter decided just about everything. Bosh was 4 for 4 from the field, on the way to a 12-point quarter. Miami outrebounded San Antonio 14-3 in the period, with James and Cole each grabbing one more rebound than the entire Spurs roster did collectively.
”It’s a bad combination when we’re not disciplined enough defensively and they’re making shots,” Popovich said. ”They shot it really well – came with their `A’ game.”
NOTES: Only two of the teams’ last eight non-Finals meetings have been decided by less than 12 points. … The Heat have played their last 98:33 without facing a deficit. … Actor John Malkovich was in the sold-out, largely late-arriving crowd for the 1 p.m. start. … Popovich remained tied with Red Auerbach on the all-time NBA coaching wins list, with 938. … The Spurs scored 100 or more points for the 15th straight game.