8:00 PM ET, January 24, 2008
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- Two years ago, the Miami Heat were dubbed "15 Strong" on their way to the NBA championship.
These days, it's more like "15 Wrong" -- and counting.
Tim Duncan scored 30 points and added 11 rebounds, Manu Ginobili's driving layup with 36.5 seconds left was the go-ahead score, and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to beat the Heat 90-89 Thursday night.
"I thought we might run out of gas," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "But we didn't."
It was Miami's 15th straight loss, two shy of matching the franchise futility record. And this one might have hurt the most of them all, considering the Heat were either leading or tied for 46:48 of the game's 48 minutes.
"I don't know if we can play any better than that," Heat coach Pat Riley said.
Dwyane Wade scored 27 points and added nine assists for Miami, but lost the ball while driving for what could have been the winning score with three seconds left. Mark Blount, playing in place of the injured Shaquille O'Neal, added 23 points and Jason Williams scored 14 for Miami.
Miami led by 10 in the third quarter, then trailed for only the second time after Parker made a pair of free throws with 2:23 left. But Wade curled past Duncan for a layup 12 seconds later to put Miami back on top, then stole the ball from Duncan on San Antonio's next two possessions.
It still wasn't enough, as Miami managed only eight points over the final 8:50.
"We didn't play great," Ginobili said. "But mentally, we were there and we gave our best effort."
So did Miami.
Wade laid on the court after his final turnover, declining when fellow All-Star starter Duncan offered to help him up, and just stared at the scoreboard as the crowd began heading for exits.
He knew this was an opportunity missed -- and all the ingredients were right for a Miami win.
Miami hadn't played since Monday and hasn't ventured outside of South Florida since playing in New Orleans on Jan. 11. Meanwhile, the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, then flew to Miami and didn't reach their hotel until 3:45 a.m.
Down the stretch, though, they weren't deterred.
"Once you get in that fourth quarter and your adrenaline's flowing and you know the score is what it is, you're not really tired any more," Duncan said. "You just play through it."
It was clear, the Heat wanted this one badly.
Most of the bench, including assistant coaches Bob McAdoo, Ron Rothstein and Erik Spoelstra spent time in the fourth quarter on their feet, the combination of anxiety and anticipation making it hard for them to sit still.
"There was definitely a lot of energy in the house, from the fans to the players to the coaches to the guys on the court," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. "We've got to continue to play like that every game."
But in the end, the Spurs only added to their misery.
"Once again, we just didn't get the job done," Haslem said.
Blount made the most of his newfound opportunity early.
He scored 10 points in the game's first 8:54, even doing some things -- long jumpers, double-pump layups and a dribble-drive from the top of the key for a dunk -- that O'Neal doesn't have in his arsenal these days.
But even with Blount's 15 first-half points and a 56-percent shooting performance as a team, the Heat only led 46-45 at intermission. Abysmal free-throw shooting was the problem.
Miami was 6-for-14 from the foul line in the first two quarters, while the Spurs went 10-for-10.
Of course, there was some bad Heat luck involved, too.
In what might seem like the perfect microcosm of Miami's season to date, Bruce Bowen missed a right-wing jumper with 6:40 left in the opening quarter. Miami forward Dorell Wright leaped for the rebound and -- just as he was touching the ball -- banged bodies with Haslem, who also was airborne.
The ball skipped off Wright's hands and through the rim, resulting in a basket credited to Fabricio Oberto, the nearest San Antonio player.
That basket proved to be huge.
"We don't look at it as luck," Bowen said. "Luck only happens in horseshoes."
Jeremy Richardson, who was with the Heat in training camp and thought he'd done enough to win a roster spot in Miami, was inactive for San Antonio. He's on a second 10-day contract with the Spurs. ... San Antonio's Brent Barry aggravated a left calf injury with 1:31 left in the third quarter and hobbled to the bench.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||35-74 (.473)||36-73 (.493)|
|3PM-3PA||5-24 (.208)||4-9 (.444)|
|FTM-FTA||15-18 (.833)||13-23 (.565)|
|Fast Break Points||12||6|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||20 (0/0)||14 (0/0)|