SAN ANTONIO – Guard Tyler Johnson hit 6 of 8 shots, 4 of 4 from the 3-point line, and finished with 17 points to pace the Miami Heat to a 108-100 victory over the Spurs in a preseason game Friday night at the AT&T Center.
The Heat (3-1) were up 55-48 at halftime and outscored the Silver and Black 33-20 in the third quarter to take an 88-68 lead into the final period. Johnson nailed a 32-foot bank shot right before the buzzer sounded the end of the third quarter, giving Miami its 20-point lead. The Heat extended their advantage to 23 points, but San Antonio outscored them 32-20 in the last quarter to cut Miami's margin of victory.
The Spurs (3-2) host Houston in their sixth and final preseason game next Friday night, and open the regular season on the road against the two-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, Oct. 25.
Kawhi Leonard and backup center Dewayne Dedmon led the Spurs with 11 points, but Leonard made only 1 of 9 shots. Pau Gasol, Tony Parker and Jonathon Simmons each scored 10 points.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked if he saw anything he liked in the loss.
"Maybe a little bit more willingness to pass, although I thought that the passes were poor in the sense of accuracy," he said. "It's tough to get shots when the ball's at your feet or to the side, or over your head, or that kind of thing.
"So I'm disappointed in that, but there's a willingness to hit the open man. We weren't physically aggressive enough to compete tonight. They cut better than we did offensively, moved with more purpose offensively, and I think defensively they got into us better than we got into them."
The Spurs played without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was excused from the game so he could attend his induction into the University of Texas Men's Athletic Hall of Honor on Friday night in Austin.
Kyle Anderson took Aldridge's place in the starting lineup, but David Lee started the second half at Aldridge's spot. Anderson led the Spurs with seven rebounds and Leonard added six. Parker had four assists to lead the Silver and Black in that statistical category.
"I can't wait for the season to start," Parker said. "Of course, we have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of new guys, so for sure. We are going to have a lot of great practices next week, and then one more game, and then the real stuff is going to start."
Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson each scored 15 points for the Heat. Hassan Whiteside (12) and Derrick Williams (10) rounded out Miami's double-digit scoring.
Final: Heat 108, Spurs 100
Fourth quarter (5:45): Heat 100, Spurs 84
Fourth quarter (8:37): Heat 97, Spurs 74
End of third quarter: Heat 88, Spurs 68. Tyler Johnson, who leads all scorers with 17 points, launches a half-court shot to put Miami up by 20 right before the buzzer sounds the end of the third quarter.
Third quarter (2:55): Heat 80, Spurs 63. Miami has outscored San Antonio 25-15 in the third quarter.
Third quarter (6:00): Heat 72, Spurs 58
End of first half: Heat 55, Spurs 48
Second quarter (2:51): Heat 49, Spurs 41.
Second quarter (7:15): Heat 38, Spurs 33. Kawhi Leonard hits a 3-pointer. Davis Bertans with the assist.
Second quarter (8:28): Heat 36, Spurs 28. Timeout. Davis Bertans just hit a jumper for the Silver and Black.
End of first quarter: Heat 30, Spurs 24. Miami shot 52.2 percent (12/23) in the first period. San Antonio was 8 of 19 for 42.1 percent.
First quarter (3:25): Spurs 18, Heat 17. Dewayne Dedmon slams one down to put the Silver and Black up by one.
First quarter (5:30): Heat 14, Spurs 12
Anderson gets nod: Kyle Anderson started Friday night's game, taking LaMarcus Aldridge's spot in the lineup.
Gasol steadily adapting to Spurs' system on both ends of court
SAN ANTONIO – Six days after giving their home fans a preview of what they’ll look like without Tim Duncan, the Spurs return to the AT&T Center on Friday night for their fifth of six preseason games.
The Silver and Black (3-1) play the Miami Heat (2-1) at 7:30.
San Antonio will take the floor without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is being inducted into the University of Texas Men’s Athletic Hall of Honor Friday night in Austin. Aldridge played at UT for two seasons (2004-06) before getting selected by the Chicago Bulls with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft.
Aldridge was the subject of a story Wednesday by ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, who speculated that the Spurs could be open to a trade for the four-time All-NBA player during the 2016-17 season if the team doesn’t perform to expectations.
The Spurs are coming off a 95-89 victory at Orlando on Wednesday night. Pau Gasol led the Silver and Black with 14 points and also dished out four assists. The Spurs signed Gasol, who won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, as a free agent in July to help fill the void left by Duncan’s retirement.
Gasol will team with Aldridge, last year’s big free agent acquisition, to give San Antonio potentially one of the best frontcourt tandems in the league.
“I think we’re making it work really well so far,” Gasol said. “I think we both know how to play the game. We’re kind of feeling each other out a little bit on what we want to do on the floor. We have different games, so we complement each other real well.
“To me, it’s always about finding yourself, but also making everyone else around you better. That’s going to be my goal with LaMarcus and the rest of the guys.”
Gasol was asked what he expects the Spurs’ main focus to be against the Heat on Friday night.
“Continue to improve, continue to get in better rhythm,” he said. “Continue tightening up defensively, offensively. Increase intensity on the floor. Just basically utilize this game to prepare for the regular season. That’s what they’re about.”
Gasol said he’s steadily adapting to the Spurs’ system on both ends of the court. Is it starting to feel like home?
“At the end of the day, I’m playing basketball, which has been my love,” he said. “I’m playing with a group of guys that know how to play the game. They’re unselfish and approach the game the same way that I do, so that’s home to me.”
Gasol cited rookie guard Bryn Forbes and 6-foot-10 rookie forward Davis Bertans when he was asked if any players in training camp have surprised him.
“Different guys, especially young guys that you don’t know,” Gasol said. “You see their qualities and they’re sometimes surprising because you just didn’t know them that well. Forbes has an incredible ability to shoot the three. Quick trigger.
“Even though he doesn’t have a lot of size, he moves well without the ball and gets open, and he knocks them down right off the bat. That’s been pretty impressive. Davis is a player that is pretty athletic for his size, and doesn’t look athletic. He’s a little deceptive in that regard.”
A Michigan State product, Forbes has hit 6 of 12 shots from the 3-point line in four preseason games. He scored 12 points in nine minutes of the fourth quarter in the win over Orlando on Wednesday night.
Bertrans, from Latvia, nailed 4 of 5 shots, 2 of 3 from beyond the arc and finished with 10 points in last Saturday’s 102-91 victory over Atlanta in the Spurs’ preseason home opener.
Gasol also had good things to say about guards Patricio Garino and Nicolas Laprovittola, both of whom have played on Argentina’s national team with Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili.
“They know how to play the game, especially Nico, the point guard,” Gasol said. “He’s very crafty, experienced for a young guy. That’s also been pretty surprising. Beyond that, just getting along with the guys, having fun, getting to know them and developing the chemistry on the court.”
The Spurs end the preseason against Houston next Friday at the AT&T Center. They open the regular season on the road against two-time defending Western Conference champion Golden State on Tuesday, Oct. 25. San Antonio plays New Orleans in its home opener on Saturday, Oct. 29.
The Silver and Black finished a franchise-best 67-15 last season and lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals.
(© 2017 KENS)