Injuries keep James, Wade, Chalmers on sideline against San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO — Chris Bosh scored 23 points, including a winning 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining, and the Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs 88-86 on Sunday night with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers sitting out because of injuries.
Ray Allen had 14 points, Norris Cole added 13 and Mike Miller 12 for Miami (58-15), which swept the season series with San Antonio (55-18). By earning the head-to-head tiebreaker with San Antonio, the Heat essentially have a four-game cushion with nine remaining for the league’s best record and home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.
Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who a seven-game home winning streak snapped. Danny Green and Tony Parker added 12 points apiece and Stephen Jackson had 11.
Bosh finished 3 for 5 on 3s, including the final shot from straightaway in the closing seconds. He let out a loud yell after making the shot and celebrated with teammates when Parker’s jumper bounced off the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
The game was similar to Miami’s 105-100 victory Nov. 29 against San Antonio, when the Spurs’ reserves nearly toppled the Heat. This time the reserves prevailed, however.
James and Wade were surprise late scratches while Chalmers did not play Friday in New Orleans and was listed as day-to-day with a sprained right ankle.
James strained his right hamstring in the first half of Friday’s 108-89 victory at New Orleans, according to the Heat. He continued to play despite the injury, however, scoring 36 points in 32 minutes prior to sitting out late in the blowout victory.
Wade injured his right ankle in Miami’s 101-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, which snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak. Wade had 17 points and nine assists in 33 minutes Friday against New Orleans.
The absences didn’t impact Miami.
Miami outscored San Antonio 31-18 in the third quarter, going 4 for 7 on 3s to take a 71-64 lead. Rashard Lewis’ layup off a turnover gave the Heat a 64-56 lead, their largest of the game.
Leonard and Green hit back-to-back 3s as San Antonio pulled to 80-78 with 5:21 remaining in the game.
Duncan’s jumper gave the Spurs an 84-83 lead with 2:59 to go. San Antonio had an opportunity to extend the lead when Green raced toward the basket off a steal, but Shane Battier blocked his 1-on-2 attempt. Parker pushed his hands down on the next stoppage of play, telling Green to take his time.
Both teams were scoreless until Duncan hit another fadeaway jumper with 1:21 left to give San Antonio an 86-83 lead. Cole hit two free throws to pull Miami to 86-85 with 32.1 seconds left, setting up Bosh’s heroics.
The absence of James, Wade and Chalmers rekindled the controversy surrounding San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home instead of having them play the second game of a back-to-back Nov. 19 in Miami. It was the finale of a six-game road trip, finishing with four games in five days. The Spurs did not give the NBA or Miami prior notice of the players’ absences, which led the NBA to fine San Antonio $250,000.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if San Antonio’s decision to sit their stars in Miami had an impact on his decision to rest his stars for this game.
“I could see how you guys can draw that conclusion, but no,” Spoelstra said before the game.
Unlike Popovich, Spoelstra listed injuries as the reason for his stars’ absence.
Popovich reacted in mock horror when told James, Wade and Chalmers were out.
“Are you kidding me,” Popovich said in mock astonishment. “Who would think of something like that? That’s below the belt. There’s no place for that.”
Bosh made his first two attempts, including a 3-pointer from straightaway, as part of a 7-0 run to open the game.
San Antonio weathered the early run, closing the first quarter on a 14-8 run and took a 45-40 lead at the half.
NOTES: Two-time majors champion Rory McIlroy was in attendance, sitting alongside former Spurs forward and ESPN analyst Bruce Bowen. McIroy is in San Antonio to compete in the PGA Tour’s Valero Texas Open, which opens Thursday at the AT&T Oaks Course. He won the 2012 PGA Championship and 2011 U.S. Open. ... Former Texas Rangers All-Star catcher Ivan Rodriguez received a loud ovation when he was introduced during the first half. Rodriguez was in San Antonio as part of the Big League Weekend, a pair of exhibition games between the Rangers and San Diego Padres at the Alamodome.