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San Antonio at Miami, Final Score: Spurs open Rodeo Road Trip with loss to Heat, 104-116

It was a low-scoring, neck-in-neck game, and then the fourth quarter happened.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs opened their 22nd annual Rodeo Road Trip with a loss to the Miami Heat, but not for a lack of trying. Both teams played a physical, low scoring game for the first three quarters, with the Spurs looking rusty after three days off and the Heat tired on a back-to-back. Then, led by Jimmy Butler, Miami exploded in the fourth quarter to turn what had been a one-point game into a comfortable victory, handing the Spurs a 104-116 loss.

Victor Wembanyama, Devin Vassell and Tre Jones combined for 54 points, but no other Spurs scored in double figures. Tyler Herro led the Heat with 24 points on 4-7 shooting from three, and Bam Adebayo had 20 points.


  • Adebayo won two jump balls against Wemby in the first quarter — the tip-off and a jump ball that resulted from a wedgie shot by the Heat — by going for the ball while it was still on its way up, which is illegal. The one after the wedgie was especially egregious, and Gregg Popovich even called timeout at the next chance to remind the refs that the ball has to reach its apex before a player can touch it. It should have been a redo, but instead it resulted in an extra possession and points for the Heat.
  • Speaking of wedgies — when the ball gets stuck between the rim and backboard — I believe it should result in the defensive team getting the ball instead of a jump ball. In this case, not a single Heat player had remained back for a potential offensive rebound, so under this new rule I just made up in my head, it would have been Spurs ball since it was a missed shot and 100% would have been a Spurs defensive rebound, therefore imminent domain applies.
  • Wemby had a teaching moment to open the second quarter after he jacked up a long three early in the shot clock, then settled for a fadeaway over the not particularly agile Kevin Love. He was quickly subbed out, talked to the assistant coaches, then returned a possession later. He was much more aggressive after that.
  • Even though Blake Wesley has taken over Malaki Branham’s minutes in the last couple of weeks, he experienced the reverse late in the third quarter when he swiped down on Duncan Robinson’s arm to give him three free throws and was benched for Branham. Branham immediately took advantage with an assist on a Vassell three and a three of his own for a quick 6-0 run to close the quarter after the Heat had gotten up by 7. We’ll see if this means anything for the rotation going forward.
  • This game was quintessential Butler. By his own admission, he tends to not take the first part of the season too seriously before turning it on after the All-Star break. That approach applied to this game too, where he was pretty invisible in the first three quarters but upped his aggression to 110% precent to start the fourth quarter as the Heat ran away with what had been a one-point game. It’s kind of interesting that a player who thrives off of playing with a chip on his shoulder plays on cruise control so often, but that’s who Butler is.
  • Both games against the Heat this season came down to them dominating the fourth quarter. In the first outing in November, the Spurs led by as much as 19 before the Heat went on 25-10 run to close the game and turned it into a laugher. Today, it was nearly even after three quarters, but between Butler turning it on and someone putting a lid on the Spurs basket — they couldn’t buy anything, not even free throws — spelled the end for them and this one. They got down by as much as 19 before Pop emptied the bench early since they have another game tomorrow, and the garbage time crew made things a little more respectful with a 10-0 run to briefly make things interesting.

The Spurs will return to action tomorrow right up the road against the Orlando Magic. Tip-off will be at 6:00 PM CT on Bally Sports.