SAN ANTONIO — It was only a regular-season game, but it had a playoff feel to it.
Just like when the Spurs and Miami Heat met in memorable NBA Finals in 2013 and 2014.
In the end, the Heat hung on for a 110-105 victory in Miami guard Dwyane Wade's final game at the AT&T Center. A three-time NBA champion and 13-time All-Star, Wade is retiring at the end of the season.
Down by 18 points in the third quarter, the Silver and Black cut the deficit to three twice in the final five minutes. But they could get no closer.
Wade and Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan exchanged jerseys after the game and embraced as photographers captured the moment.
Miami (35-36) snapped the Silver and Black's nine-game win streak, which was the longest active run of victories in the league. The Spurs (42-30) had won 11 straight at home going into the game against the Heat, who have won three in a row.
The Silver and Black have 10 games left in the regular season – four at home and six on the road.
The Spurs had a video tribute to Wade before the game and he received a warm reception from the sellout crowd of 18,354. He acknowledged the fans with a wave and also received a gift from San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
"I'm just so thankful and I'm so appreciative," Wade said after the game. "I don't expect those things to happen to me at all. I just came out and did my job every night, and you know, I'm thankful for the relationships that I have. I have a great one with Coach (Popovich), and I just appreciate what they did."
Wade was asked about the gift he received from Popovich.
"Yeah, I opened it -- legends and Hall-of-Famers' jerseys in that box, with the 'Big Three' here in San Antonio. Those are guys I have so much respect for with (Tim) Duncan, (Manu) Ginobili and (Tony) Parker, so I appreciate those jerseys."
Spurs lose first game since Feb. 25 in 110-105 defeat to Heat
Wednesday night's game capped a four-game homestand for the Spurs, who play at Houston on Friday in the first of three straight on the road. They are at Boston on Sunday and at Charlotte next Tuesday.
The Heat led 24-22 after one quarter, but outscored the Silver and Black 38-25 in the second period to go up 62-47 at the half.
Goran Dragic led the Heat's scoring with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting, including 4 of 7 from the three-point line. Dion Waters, who nailed 4 of 9 shots from beyond the arc, added 18 points.
Josh Richardson (15), James Johnson (13), Hassan Whiteside (12) and Wade (11) rounded out Miami's double-figure scoring.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli scored 17 points each for the Spurs. DeRozan and Rudy Gay added 16 and 15 points, respectively, and Davis Bertans finished with 10. DeRozan also finished with 15 rebounds and six assists.
Down by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, the Silver and Black battled back to trail by 12 (90-78) heading into the fourth period. The Heat got the lead to 13 before the Spurs started chipping away at the deficit.
San Antonio trimmed the lead to three twice -- 106-103 and 108-105 -- in the last two minutes. The first possession ended with DeRozan turning the ball over and the second with Gay missing a 3-pointer with 38.4 seconds remaining.
Josh Richardson rebounded Gay's missed shot, but the Spurs got another chance to tie the game when DeRozan blocked an 18-foot shot by Richardson.
DeRozan rebounded and took off on a one-man fast break. But DeRozan wound up committing a turnover when Wade poked the ball loose from behind, and the Heat regained possesson with 8.7 seconds remaining.
For all intents and purposes, that sealed the victory for Miami. The Spurs outscored the Heat 27-20 in the final quarter, but it wasn't enough to complete the comeback.
"Well, the best part of the game was how we played in the fourth quarter," Popovich said. "But you can't let three quarters go and then expect that it's going to go your way. "But I was really proud of them for sucking it up, picking up their heads and busting their ass in the fourth quarter and getting back in the game.
"We had a three-pointer to tie it down the stretch, so they (Spurs) deserve a lot of credit for working themselves out of those doldrums that they were in. Give credit to Miami because they were physical, they were aggressive all night long. We had a shot in the fourth quarter, but for three quarters, they whipped us physically and discipline-wise, and they deserve the win for that reason."
The third quarter ended with two big shots.
The first came when Bryn Forbes nailed a three-pointer to cut Miami's lead to 87-78 with 4.1 seconds remaining in the period. Wade nailed the second one, swishing a 51-footer just before the buzzer to put the Heat up by 12 after three quarters.
San Antonio shot 43.2 percent overall (38-88) and 41.2 percent (14-34) from beyond the arc. Miami shot a little better, making 40 of 86 field-goal attempts (46.5 percent) and 16 of 35 three-pointers (46.7).
The Spurs struggled with the Heat's zone defense in the first half, and the offensive problems carried over to the other end of the court.
"I think that really messed us up and forced the ball to stick, and try to figure out their zone," Mills said. "We hesitated, the ball stuck, and it forced us to not play defense as well down at the other end. A learning curve, definitely, for us to be able to put this in the bank.
"A lot of positives that we can learn from this for very meaningful games when it comes to playoffs. But this was good that we had this game, I think, to be able to see the way that we got exposed on not being able to move the ball. Because that's all it was, their zone and being able to work effectively against our poor offense."
Dragic carried the Heat in the first half, scoring 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 4 of 5 from the three-point line. Waiters scored 10 points and nailed 2 of 4 three-pointers.
Miami was hot in the first half, shooting 50 percent overall (21-42) and 57.9 percent (11-19) from beyond the arc.
Aldridge led the Spurs' first-half with 10 points. He and DeRozan each had six rebounds in the first two quarters.
San Antonio struggled offensively in the first two quarters, making 18 of 49 field goals for 36.7 percent. The Silver and Black were 5 of 16 (31.2 percent) from long distance.