After a slow start in the first half of the first quarter the Spurs spent the second half of the quarter putting on a show reminiscent of their demolition of the Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals. The Heat led 9-5 almost five minutes into the game before the Spurs closed the quarter by outscoring the Heat 25-10 behind a slew of threes, Tony Parker looking like Tony Parker for the first time in recent memory and Kawhi Leonard doing his thing in his new featured roll on offense.
In the second the Heat spent the first three minutes closing the gap and briefly making it look like this might be a close game before the Spurs went on another run, this one 15-2, and retook control of the contest and led by 11 at the break.
The Spurs then put together a pretty good second half and won fairly easily against a team they should beat fairly easily. The win itself wasn't anything to write home about, but the flashes of the team we know the Spurs can be were letter worthy. The ball movement was excellent for stretches, reflected in the 31 assists the team ended the night with, and the energy was good - they outrebounded the Heat and racked up 12 steals on the night. It was enough to make even a pessimistic fan think this team can still put it together.
Kawhi Leonard continued to be flat-out awesome since his return from his hand injury and he finished the game with 24 points, four boards, four dimes and three steals. Those three steals don't do his defensive performance justice as he had his hands in passing lanes or in ball-handler's space all night and generally made life difficult for the Heat with his otstanding defense. The kid ended up a team-high-by-a-large-margin +25 for the game and just looks like the real deal. It seems like every game I'm more and more impressed with his much improved court vision and passing.
Tony Parker showed up for this one, which was nice to see after a season filled with performances that left much to be desired. His +16 was second best on the team and he scored 21 points on 12 shots with just one free throw, but it was his finishing that caused me to smile. Tony's struggles have been concerning, but it was his inability to finish lately that really had me worried. Let's hope TP can use this to kickstart a return to form. The Spurs are going to need the Wee Frenchman.
Tim Duncan ended up with ANOTHER double-double and Manu Ginobili made so many fantastic passes that I'm I'll have to leave some out in the GIF Breakdown.
This was a good win for the good guys. It wasn't perfect, but it was three steps in the right direction at the right time with the Rodeo Road Trip up next for the Spurs.
San Antonio improves to 32-18, just two games back of the four-seed in the loss column after Memphis, Golden State and the Clippers lost tonight. In the battle for the eighth seed, the Pelicans handed the Thunder a loss to push them back to .500 on an incredible game-winning triple from Anthony Davis. Not a bad night for the Silver and Black in the standings.
The Spurs head out for the first leg of the Rodeo Road Trip and will visit the Raptors on Sunday, the Pacers on Monday and the Pistons on Wednesday. The six-day all-star break follows.