Despite the absence of all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, the San Antonio Spurs prevailed over the Miami Heat.
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Despite some encouraging signs, the Miami Heat fell short for the second straight game, losing 105-99 to the San Antonio Spurs.
The Heat started the game poorly, shooting just 35 percent in the first quarter to trail 24-19 at the first break. They gradually worked their way back into the game, having trailed at one stage by 16 points in the second period, 41-25. The Heat managed to level the game at 91 before Kawhi Leonard score 12 points in the final four minutes of the game as the Spurs prevailed.
Leonard finished with 27 points and six assists and Pau Gasol had his best game for the year since joining San Antonio, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Hassan Whiteside was again outstanding for the Heat, posting 27 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks. Goran Dragic also excelled, scoring 25 points to go along with five assists.
The Spurs bench proved to be pivotal, outscoring the Heat’s bench 43-14. This was led by Patty Mills, who notched 18 points including 4-of-6 from behind three. The Heat featured the same starting five for the third consecutive game, along with the same rotation of nine players in all.
Despite Whiteside’s 15 rebounds, the Heat lost the battle on the boards, 44-36.
Dragic started slowly but came home with a rush, scoring 17 of his 25 points in the second half to go along with five assists, three rebounds and a steal. Dragic was much more aggressive after the main break, driving the lane constantly while also finishing with 3-of-7 from downtown.
Waiters’ effort certainly couldn’t be questioned this game, however his execution was another matter altogether. Waiters shot just 3-of-9 from the field for 9 points to go along with six turnovers. Waiters forced the action too often, whereby if it wasn’t a turnover, it turned into a forced/contested shot. His effort and execution on the defensive end though would’ve impressed the Heat coaching staff.
Whiteside continued his outstanding start to the season, finishing with 27 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in a dominant display. Whiteside showed great proficiency on multiple post-ups with a clearly improved hook shot. He also improved his touch from the free-throw line, hitting 7-of-10. Finishing a team best +7 whilst on the floor, Whiteside was certainly the most valuable player on the floor.
After a shaky start, Winslow finished the game strong to post 18 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 39 minutes of action. Having shot just 1-of-6 from the field in the first term, Winslow finished with 7-of-15 as he continued to attack the defence and finish close to the basket. His defence was again terrific, however his three-point shooting is clearly still a work in progress – he is now 1-of-11 for the season.
Babbitt started again at the 4 spot, finishing with six points, five rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes. He hit two three pointers, as has been the case in each of his three games this season. Aside from that, his contributions have been minimal. Whilst he can stretch the floor, his overall impact so far has not been earth shattering.
Again the first player off the bench, Johnson posted 12 points and three assists in 30 minutes of action. Despite his efforts, Johnson’s impact was somewhat neutralised by the excellent Spurs perimeter defence. Johnson’s points were primarily on hard fought drives into the paint on a night in which he attempted and missed just one three-pointer.
Reed’s court time was limited, primarily due to the dominance of Whiteside. In his 13 minutes on the court, Reed posted two points, four rebounds and a steal. Despite having limited opportunities, Reed still demonstrated his importance to the Heat’s second unit.
The Heat have a day off before playing host to the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night.