Aldridge, Spurs overwhelm Heat
SAN ANTONIO — Much has been made of the performance and consistency of San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge through the first 25 games of the NBA season while he has picked up the reins for the team in the absence of Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs’ “other” star forward.
But the Spurs are much more than Aldridge and showed it again Wednesday as eight San Antonio players scored in double figures in a 117-105 victory over the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center.
Yes, Aldridge got his 18 points and led the Spurs in scoring for the 20th time this season. But just about every other San Antonio player got in on the action in a big way as well.
Bryn Forbes scored 17 points, hitting on all five of his 3-pointers. Rudy Gay scored 16 points, Patty Mills had 13, Pau Gasol and Danny Green contributed 12 apiece, and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili pumped in 10 each in a tour de force of balance and sharing the ball by the Spurs.
At this point, it would be silly to expect anything less from the Spurs (17-8), even with Leonard — who’s on the short list of the best players in the league — still nursing a quad injury that has kept him from the court all season.
“The ball really moved and we made some shots,” Ginobili said. “(Aldridge) has been carrying a lot of the offensive load so it’s good that some other are able to contribute. It’s important for everyone to be involved.
“We all feel important and everyone is touching the ball and penetrating and finding the open teammate. The team feels better, and we are in a better mood and everyone is more aggressive. When we play like this the team flourishes.”
The win was San Antonio’s sixth in seven games. Fourteen of the Spurs’ 17 victories have come against teams with losing records.
The Spurs ruled the paint, outscoring Miami 54-28 on close-range shots.
Conversely, the Heat hit 18 of their 34 3-pointers and outshot San Antonio 54.2 percent to 52.9 percent. They needed all that and more to stay close in a wide-open shootout in which the two teams combined for only 26 free throw attempts.
“This is a very unselfish team — we find the open guys,” Gasol explained. “There is a lot of talent around and everyone is feeling good, especially when we win. Now we have to keep it going.”
Tyler Johnson led Miami with 25 points off the bench, Dion Waiters scored 22 and Josh Richardson added 19 for the Heat (11-13), who have lost four of their past five games.
“We tried to be aggressive and we couldn’t because of the way San Antonio played defense — and we couldn’t get any calls (from the officials) down the stretch,” Waiters said. “We were right where we wanted to be going into the fourth quarter. We’ve just got to keep going and try to play better and win the next game.”
The first half featured three ties and two lead changes, with the largest advantage held by the Heat when they were up by eight points in the middle of the second quarter.
Miami led 58-57 at halftime behind 11 points from Johnson and 10 apiece from Waiters and Richardson and 57.5 percent shooting from the floor. The Spurs, who were led by Aldridge’s 10 points in the first two quarters, also shot well at 51.1 percent.
The Spurs assumed an 86-82 lead at the end of the third quarter when Ginobili poured in a step-back 3-pointer with one second remaining. San Antonio poured it on the fourth quarter, leading by as much as 15 points in the easier-than-the-score-indicates victory.
“I was surprised that we were able to score 35 points in the first quarter because San Antonio is such a good defensive team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We moved the ball, knocked down some open 3s and then they started to get things more to their liking and things got a lot tougher, especially in the fourth quarter.”
NOTES: San Antonio F LaMarcus Aldridge’s streak of 27 straight games in double-figure scoring is the second longest of any Spurs player since he came to San Antonio (Kawhi Leonard). ... Miami had 19 assists in the first half, the most for any Heat half this season. ... San Antonio G Patty Mills is one of three players in Spurs history to hit 500-plus three-pointers off the bench (Manu Ginobili and Matt Bonner). ... Miami is only the sixth team this year to hit 10-plus, 3-pointers against the Spurs. ... Immediately after the game Wednesday, the Heat boarded an overnight flight to Mexico City, where they will play a road game against Brooklyn on Saturday.