[March 07, 2014]SAN ANTONIO — One day after Miami
Heat forward LeBron James said he did not believe the San Antonio Spurs
are too old to contend for another spot in the NBA Finals, the Spurs
confirmed that assessment.
The oldest of the Spurs, 37-year-old forward Tim Duncan, produced
23 points and 11 rebounds as San Antonio defeated Miami 111-87
Thursday for its eighth victory in nine games.
The victory was the first for the Spurs (45-16) this season over any
of the other four teams with the best records in the NBA. They were
0-8 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Houston
Rockets and Miami before Thursday.
The win came against a Miami team that defeated San Antonio in a
seven-game NBA Finals last season.
"They want every game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'm sure
this has some special meaning. To say it's something different would
A few of Popovich's players said this type of victory was necessary
"We haven't beaten many big teams this season," forward Boris Diaw
Added Duncan, "It's a very big win for us. We're getting to the end
of the season, and we need to start winning games like this start to
Guard Tony Parker scored 17 points for San Antonio, including 10 in
the first quarter, when the Spurs took a 15-point lead.
Diaw, starting in place of Tiago Splitter, added an efficient 16,
converting all five of his field goal attempts, including two
3-pointers. He also contributed eight rebounds and five assists.
Forward Chris Bosh, the most consistent Miami player all night,
scored 24 points.
James, shedding the mask he was wearing to protect a broken nose,
scored 19 for the Heat (43-16). Hounded by Spurs forward Kawhi
Leonard (five steals), James hit just six of 18 shots and committed
five turnovers. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists.
Guard Dwyane Wade added 16 points and seven assists for the Heat.
The Spurs led by 17 early in the second quarter, but Miami used a
five-point possession with 31 seconds left in the half to close to
James made two free throws, and Miami retained the ball because Diaw
was called for a clear-path foul for grabbing James as he sprinted
out on a fast break. Forward Michael Beasley then hit a 3-point
shot, and the Heat had serious momentum.
Diaw atoned for his foul, though, making a 3-pointer with 1.8
seconds left to give San Antonio a 62-51 lead at the half.
Miami dominated most of the third quarter, converting five
consecutive shots during one stretch, followed by another span when
the Spurs missed five in a row.
"I thought we were (playing) in mud in the third quarter," Popovich
The Heat trimmed the deficit to five points with less than 30
seconds remaining in the third. However, the Spurs responded with a
3-pointer, as they did at the end of the first half, this time by
guard Patty Mills (nine points, 10 rebounds).
Duncan was the go-to guy in the fourth quarter, when he made four of
"I don't want to forget that he's here," Popovich said.
Wade indicated that the Spurs are a top-notch offensive team
regardless of which player shoots the ball.
"They are difficult to guard," Wade said. "They have a great system,
and they have a very unselfish team. That is why year after year
they are one of the better teams in the league. They stay true to
their system, and they believe in it."
NOTES: Spurs reserve F/C Jeff Ayres missed the game with a hand
injury suffered in practice Wednesday. ... Miami C Greg Oden
appeared in his 15th game this season, and he played six scoreless
minutes. The Heat could have used Oden against Rockets C Dwight
Howard during a loss at Houston on Tuesday, but coach Erik Spoelstra
maintained his policy of not allowing Oden to play two days in a
row. The Heat faced the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday. Oden has spent
most of his career recovering from knee injuries. ... The Spurs, who
rank second in the NBA in assists at nearly 25 a game, outdid
themselves in several recent games. They matched their season-best
with 34 assists, on 44 baskets, against the Detroit Pistons. They
assisted on 39 of 43 baskets at Cleveland on Tuesday, then on 30 of
40 baskets Thursday. ... Heat F Michael Beasley began the night with
career bests in shooting accuracy (51.5 percent) and 3-point
accuracy (45.5 percent). He made five of 10 shots against the Spurs,
including his lone 3-point attempt.