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San Antonio vs. Miami, Final Score: Spurs hang on to beat the Heat, 107-102

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The Spurs continue their January dominance of the East’s best.

NBA: Miami Heat at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs completed their dominant January run against the best of the East with a 107-102 win over the Miami Heat, adding even more confoundedness to their inability to put away lowly teams like the Hawks. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Spurs got back to playing good enough defense and got hot when they needed to to put away the No. 2 team in the East. Five Spurs and Heat players each scored in double figures, led by 21 points apiece from LaMarcus Aldridge and Bam Adebayo.

Observations

  • The Spurs can never seem to catch a break on jump balls, even when they win them. In a rarity this season, Aldridge won the opening tip-off, but they had to redo it because the clock didn’t start properly. (Why not just tell the clock operator to set the game clock to 11:59 or whatever and give the Spurs possession?) Adebayo won the second tip-off, and the Heat scored on their opening possession.
  • The Spurs once again got out to a slow start, partly thanks to four threes from Duncan Robinson (because of course in San Antonio) and mostly because of lazy passing and ball movement from the Spurs — a carryover from the loss to the Hawks. They had 4 turnovers in the first quarter, which the Heat scored 11 points off of: a number that just so happened to be the Spurs’ largest deficit. Still, the bench came in and helped the Spurs recover a bit as they were only down 31-28 at the end of the first.
  • It was the NBA’s first ever Indigenous Peoples Night (Day?) organized by Patty Mills, and he was ready to represent, leading the Spurs back after their slow start with 14 first-half points. During the second quarter, he hit the 1,000th three-pointer in his NBA career. That’s by far the most of any Australian in NBA history (next is the Jazz’s Joe Ingles at 762) and makes him just the 18th second round pick to achieve that accomplishment.
  • When Lonnie Walker IV drives to the basket, it’s a beautiful sight. It’s even better when he’s aware of the shot-blockers and makes a concerted effort to avoid them on his nifty finishes around the rim. He also seems to have magnetic hands when it comes to grabbing rebounds, especially ones that appear to be moving away from him.
  • The last few minutes of the first half was reminiscent of the end of the Hawks game. After the Spurs had built a 12-point lead, they got lazy again, allowing the Heat to score at ease while appearing confounded by a simple zone defense. After being down by as much as 11, it’s hard to complain about the Spurs being up 6 at the half against the league’s 3rd best team, but they’re just so prone to getting complacent when anything resembling a comfortable lead is built that you can never feel comfortable.
  • The good side of video review made an appearance in the third quarter after a Derrick Jones Jr. three that should have been a shot clock violation was counted. During the next timeout, the play was reviewed, and the score changed from a Spurs one-point lead before the timeout to a four-point lead afterwards. The only thing that would have made it better is if a DeMar DeRozan “Vinny” (i.e. a toe-on-the-line three-point attempt) wasn’t upheld as a two, and it would have been a four-point swing.
  • On a day that was full of clock glitches and the need for video review to differentiate makes from misses and threes from twos, a scoreboard glitch in the fourth quarter confused a lot of viewers. After a Derrick White three, the score read 91-88 Spurs. It was then changed to 90-88, confusing many into believing White’s three had been called a two and more video review would be needed. After some consulting between the Spurs and Heat’s score keepers as the game was ongoing, it was determined that this was the correct score, but White had briefly been given four points for his shot.
  • Mills’s hustle on a loose ball seemed to energize the Spurs in the latter part of the fourth quarter. After diving to knock a careening offensive rebound off of Meyers Leonard with the Spurs down 1, they responded with an 8-0 run. The Spurs didn’t score again after that until Marco Belinelli free throws with 6 sec left to ice the game, but it was enough for them to hold on and win while leaning on their defense over the final two minutes.
  • DeRozan’s record streak of 20+ points on 50% shooting and 3+ assists came to an end by one shot today, as he finished with 20 points on 7-16 shooting and 9 assists. However, like the rest of us I’m sure he’ll happily exchange the streak for the win, and with other players having hot hands on this night, he was happy to go back to the role of facilitator.

For the Heat fans’ perspective, visit Hot Hot Hoops.

The Spurs are immediately heading out to Phoenix to take on the Suns tomorrow in another important battle in the Race for 8th. Tip-off will be at 8:00 PM CT on FSSW.