Heat eye season sweep in visit to San Antonio

Field Level Media

January 18, 2020 at 5:20 pm.

The Miami Heat, winners in their past two outings and one of the league’s most surprising teams, will go for the season sweep of the San Antonio Spurs when the two teams square off on Sunday afternoon in the Alamo City.

The two teams played Wednesday in Miami, with the Heat producing a 106-100 victory.

They followed up that win with an impressive 115-108 victory over the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Friday that came after Miami had dropped four of its previous five games away from home.

Seven Heat players finished with double-digit scoring on Friday, led by rookie guard Kendrick Nunn’s 22 points. Bam Adebayo (21 points), Jimmy Butler (14), Duncan Robinson (14), Derrick Jones Jr. (13), Kelly Olynyk (12) and Goran Dragic (10) helped the cause as well.

The Heat hit the midway point of the season with a 29-12 record, putting them at a pace for 58 regular-season wins. Seven players are averaging double-digit points for Miami after 41 games.

“Everybody knows that we’re for real on the offensive end,” Butler said. “Everybody in this locker room, everybody outside the locker room. Everybody is whipping the ball around. We’re sharing the basketball. It’s so fun to play like that.”

The real improvement in the Heat this year is on the defensive end, especially around the rim. Miami limited the Thunder to 34 points in the paint and 13-of-22 shooting inside the restricted area.

“It’s the efforts,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra told the Miami Herald. “You have to burn some calories and make some things happen. If you want to win in a tough place, you’re going to have to make tough plays, you’re going to have to get stops.”

Getting some stops, especially in the end game, was something the Spurs (17-23) badly needed on Friday. That’s when Atlanta used a 14-point fourth-quarter rally and a game-deciding 3-pointer from Kevin Huerter with 6.3 seconds left to give the Hawks a stunning 121-120 win in the Alamo City.

“We were not solid down the stretch, and it’s what has bitten us in the ass the whole year,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said after the loss. “Too many mistakes down the stretch and that’s what always seems to happen when we lose a basketball game.”

The victory snapped a 21-game losing streak in San Antonio for Atlanta, which hadn’t won in the Alamo City since Feb. 15, 1997. The Hawks (10-32) completed a sweep of their season series against the Spurs, who fell 108-100 in Atlanta on Nov. 5. Only Golden State (9-34) has a worse record than Atlanta.

“Playing the game when we have the lead, we have to understand that we have to be poised, disciplined, don’t feel rushed on offense and understand how to be solid defensively,” said San Antonio guard DeMar DeRozan, who missed a running fadeaway at the buzzer. “We had a couple of lapses on both ends that definitely cost us.”

LaMarcus Aldridge and DeRozan led the Spurs with 30 and 25 points, respectively. Patty Mills (15) and Dejounte Murray (13) completed the double-digit scoring for San Antonio.

DeRozan, who hit 9 of 18 shots, moved to No. 2 for the longest streaks in NBA history with 20-plus points and three-plus assists. DeRozan, whose streak stands at 13 games, trails only Wilt Chamberlain (19).