Heat fight back in 2nd half but come up short at Spurs
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Spurs got knocked around by the Miami Heat, especially in the second half. Some bumps and bruises weren’t enough to stop a San Antonio team that finally had its starting five intact, though.
Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and 12 rebounds, LaMarcus Aldridge added 18 points and San Antonio held on to beat Miami 94-90 on Monday night.
The Heat held the Spurs to 26 percent shooting after halftime but couldn’t find enough offense to prevent their fifth straight loss.
"You have to give them credit," Spurs point guard Tony Parker said. "They played great defense in the second half. They played with more energy and they played more physical. We have to find a solution next time."
San Antonio’s projected starting five of Leonard, Aldridge, Parker, Pau Gasol and Danny Green made its home debut after injuries to the starting backcourt led to five different starting lineups in the team’s first nine games.
Despite that, the Spurs committed a season-high 17 turnovers and got roughed up throughout. Gasol tumbled to the floor on several occasions, including crashing into the stanchion after being struck from behind by Dion Waiters on a layup. Green did not play in the second half after taking a knee to the groin in the first half.
"Second half was probably one of our better defensive halves and we’ve had some really good defensive halves in games this year," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "But that’s about as hard as we’ve competed on that end."
The Heat pulled within 87-83 with two minutes remaining, but the Spurs were able to extend their lead when Patty Mills and Leonard were fouled on consecutive possessions.
Waiters, who tormented San Antonio in the playoffs last season while with Oklahoma City, had 27 points. He was 12 for 26 from the field but did not attempt a free throw.
"That’s the crazy part about, I’m not the type of guy that would question the referees on anything," Waiters said. "But I look at how many layup attempts I got tonight, like 15, and I haven’t gotten to the line one time."
Center Hassan Whiteside had 23 points and 17 rebounds, giving him a double-double in eight of nine games this season.
Gasol had 12 points, Parker added 11 points and six assists and Green was limited to three points in 15 minutes.
The returning starters sparked a 21-6 run in the first quarter after the Spurs gave up the game’s first four points.
Aldridge was 4 for 4 in the opening quarter, setting up on the wing and awaiting feeds from Leonard, Green and Patty Mills. Aldridge made his first seven shots before finishing 8 for 14.
The Spurs nearly blew that early efficiency with a sloppy third quarter.
"We were out of sync a little bit with our offense, especially in the third," Leonard said. "It starts off with me. I’ve got to be more patient and run the offense."
Heat: Miami PG Goran Dragic is no longer in a walking boot and is doing light bike work as he recovers from a sprained left ankle. Dragic missed his second straight game. … F Derrick Williams made his first start of the season. He finished with five points and a rebound in 16 minutes. … Miami completed its season series with San Antonio, marking the earliest the teams have done so in their history. The earliest series completion previously was Dec. 6, 2003.
Spurs: Parker has played 34,798 career minutes, moving him past Clyde Drexler and Grant Hill into 70th on the career list. Parker also had at least 10 points and five assists for the 641st time in his career. … San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has 1,095 career wins, three shy of tying his mentor and friend Larry Brown.
San Antonio will embark on its longest trip of the season, playing four of its next five on the road starting Wednesday night in Sacramento.
The Spurs are 5-0 away from home.
"We’ve been playing pretty good on the road," Leonard said. "It’s the home games that have been bothering us. It’s always tough to play on the road. We’ve just got to focus in as always."
NO. 2 is No. 1
Leonard has the highest career winning percentage of any player in league history that has played in a minimum of 300 games. Leonard’s .775 winning percentage is higher than teammate Green (.745) and Hall of Famers Magic Johnson (.740) and Larry Bird (.736).
Heat: Host Atlanta on Tuesday night.
Spurs: At Sacramento on Wednesday night.