Heat Check: Another blowout leaves Miami in deep Finals hole

MIAMI — The Miami Heat handed out "Larry Loves Miami" T-shirts to those attending Thursday night’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

But the championship trophy looks ready for a new home as the Heat are on the brink of elimination following a 107-86 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at AmericanAirlines Arena.

For the first time since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, the Heat have dropped consecutive postseason games, snapping a streak of 13 consecutive wins after losing the previous contest — the longest since the 1960s.

"Right now they’re playing better than us, no question about it," Dwyane Wade said. "We’ll see at the end of the series. Whoever wins is the better team. But the Spurs are playing better than us. They whipped our butt here at home, and you’ve got to give them credir for coming out, getting to their gameplan — their game for 48 minutes — and we haven’t been able to do that. So if we want to get back into the series, we have to be better than them on Sunday. If not, then it will be over."

It’s never a good sign when Toney Douglas, acquired by the Heat in January, enters the game with just seven postseason points. Or when Spurs forward Matt Bonner dribbles into the key uncontested and knocks down his first bucket of the series.

Although San Antonio missed its first three shots, the Spurs still jumped out to a 26-17 lead by the end of the first quarter. LeBron James didn’t score until 3:27 left. The Spurs knocked down 56.3 percent of their shots. The Heat, on the other hand, connected on just 35 percent with five turnovers.

"It’s not energy," Chris Bosh said. "We missed some shots. Give them credit. They’re a very good team. We’re making mistakes early in the game, and they’re making us pay. It’s just one of those teams if you make mistakes, especially early, they’re going to capitalize very quickly and throughout this series we’ve been playing from behind with the exception of Game 1. They’ve done a very good job of starting fast."

San Antonio opened with five straight points in the second. After exchanging baskets, Ray Allen’s 3-pointer brought it back to a single-digit deficit at 37-28. But the Spurs would outscore the Heat by 10 over the final six minutes to take a 55-36 halftime lead. That marked the lowest halftime total for the Heat this playoffs and the first time in Finals history a road team led by at least 15 in consecutive games.

James scored eight of Miami’s first 10 points of the third quarter as the Heat trimmed the deficit to 13, but they would never get as close for the remainder of the game. Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 20 points, collected eight in the third. The Spurs pushed the lead to as many as 24.

Miami, whose starters exited with five minutes remaining like the crowd in attendance, dropped to 1-5 this postseason when its opponent shoots 50 percent or better and 0-5 when allowing 100 points or more.

"They smashed us," James said. "Two straight home games, got off to awful starts. They came in and were much better than us in these two games. It’s just that simple."


Fans didn’t play along with the "Dos minutos" chant synonymous with Heat games leading up to halftime. They even began booing on Leonard’s dunk that put the Spurs up by 22 points with 1:08 to play in the second quarter.

"Life is harsh," Bosh said. "You just have to get over those things pretty quickly. Maybe they’re right. Maybe we do deserve it right now."


Fresh off a career performance in Game 3, Leonard recorded a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Yet Boris Diaw’s impact can’t go without mention as he just missed a triple-double with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

"He’s been amazing, especially in this series," Tim Duncan said of Diaw. "I think he’s really found his rhythm. He’s always been effective with what he’s done using his body, using his ability to pass and his ability to attack the basket and smaller players, and it’s really showing in this series."


Take away James’ game-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting and the Heat went 22-for-57 (41.7 percent). Wade shot 3 for 13 with 10 points, his 2014 postseason low. Bosh added 12 — half of which came in the first quarter.

"I just missed them," Wade said. "You know, I’m a very accurate shooter, so I don’t like missing. I’m not used to missing around the basket. But law of averages, man. The ball just didn’t go in. But I’ll take those same opportunities next game for sure."



Game 5 will be 8 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Center in San Antonio.

"Our group has been through everything you possibly can be through except for this circumstance, so why not?" coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Why not test ourselves right now collectively? Our championship resolve that we’ve proven time and time again. We’ll have to do it in a different way.

"And I want our focus right now not about all three games. All it is, let’s get this thing back to Miami. When we’re right mentally, emotionally, collectively, there is a real strong spirit to us, we feel we can win anywhere, and that’s what we’ll work on for the next two days."

Game 5 will be 8 p.m. Sunday at AT&T Center in San Antonio.

You can follow Christina De Nicola on Twitter @CDeNicola13 or email her at cdenicola13@gmail.com.