NBA: With superstars sidelined, Heat beat Spurs
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Miami superstars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sat out the NBA’s marquee match-up against San Antonio on Sunday, but Chris Bosh provided enough star power to lift the Heat to an 88-86 victory.
Reigning NBA champions and Eastern Confernce leaders Miami forged a three-game advantage over Western Conference leaders San Antonio for the best record in the league and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
They have also swept the season series with the Spurs, earning the head-to-head tiebreaker for home-court.
Bosh, the often overlooked member of Miami’s “Big Three,” made sure the Heat didn’t miss injured James and Wade.
With the Heat trailing 85-86, he drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining as Miami held on for their second straight victory since having their 27-game winning streak snapped by Chicago on Wednesday.
Bosh scored 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds.
Ray Allen added 14 points, Norris Cole scored 13 and Mike Miller chipped in 12 for the Heat, who improved to 58-15.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said shortly before the game that James and Wade would sit out.
James had played on after straining his right hamstring in the first half of Friday’s win against New Orleans, although he sat out the final quarter with the Heat holding a comfortable lead.
Wade hurt his right ankle in Wednesday’s loss to the Bulls, but played on Friday.
“We’re a deep team for a reason. We’re prepared for this,” Spoelstra said via the team’s Twitter account as he addressed sitting his biggest stars for the key contest.
The move still raised eyebrows, because for a game at Miami early in November Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich sent guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, along with forwards Tim Duncan and Danny Green home prior to the contest.
The NBA fined the club $250,000 for the move, and the Heat won the game 105-100.
Spoelstra said before the game Sunday that his decision to sit Wade, James and usual starter Mario Chalmers wasn’t in retaliation for that move.
“I can see where you guys would draw those conclusions, but no,” Spoelstra told reporters. “This was unforeseen.”
The Spurs weren’t at 100 percent either. Ginobili sat out with a hamstring strain, an injury that Popovich has indicated could see him miss the start of the playoffs.
Tony Parker had a chance at the buzzer for San Antonio, but his bank shot didn’t drop.
The Spurs’ French playmaker finished with 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting and eight assists.
Duncan registered 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Kawhi Leonard added 17 points and 11 boards for the Spurs, who had won six of their last seven games coming into the contest.