Spurs 80 - HEAT 110 Recap

MIAMI – The Miami HEAT have had a handful of wins this season that could be labeled the biggest, the most significant or the proverbial turning point. Each time one comes along, you have to consider the context of the season, just to make sure everything is filed away in its proper place, in the proper order.

This win, a 110-80 shellacking of the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the league’s best record, goes straight to the front. As much for what it was as for what it represented.

That being the new HEAT standard for total and complete balance in either end of the court.

There were just that many good things happening, from scoring 118 points per 100 possessions, assisting on 25-of-42 field goals and matching the Spurs’ offensive output with three players to holding the league’s third-most efficient offense to 86 points per 100 possessions and swiftly counter-attacking after every live-ball stop. For all intents and purposes, it was a cornucopia of excellence.

And because this three-game winning streak comes on the heels of such a dreadful stretch, the impact is heightened even more.

“When you suffer enough pain and you do it collectively, as long as [you don’t let] all the noise from outside make it about something else, you'll make the steps to improve,” Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s been the nature of our group is to be objective about our game, we knew we had to improve on some things, and we need to continue to improve in all those areas.”

They knew what they had to improve on in part because the Spurs provided such a strong reminder just 10 days ago, when it was the HEAT’s turn to lose by 30.

“It’s huge for us,” Chris Bosh said. “Really just getting even with this team. They beat us pretty good, and I’m happy that we were able to respond by playing a complete game.”

In a season full of so much, as Spoelstra calls it, noise, it was rare to hear to the HEAT admit to responding to a specific event, but the sentiment was shared even as perspective was maintained.

“We can’t linger too much . . . but it’s definitely a good win,” LeBron James said. “We know what they did to us last time. We wanted to just keep the momentum we had the last few games.

“It’s a big win for us, but we can’t celebrate now.”

After a film session Tuesday, the HEAT won’t dwell too long on one individual item of success, but there is plenty to be celebrated. The way, for example, Miami straddled the center of the offensive teeter-totter, shifting seamlessly from freelancing offense to multi-action execution, taking just nine three-pointers as they scoring 46 in the paint.

Or how they cut off all but the most difficult of driving lanes for Tony Parker (18 points) and Manu Ginobili, and secured the bevy of available rebounds resulting from a forced 38.3 shooting percentage as they out-rebounded San Antonio, 47-33.

Strangely enough, apart from the point-differential, the HEAT handed the Spurs the sort of loss opponents tend to search for against Miami. San Antonio’s primary three scorers – Parker, Ginobili and Tim Duncan – combined to 44 on 47.2 percent shooting, but without them, the Spurs shot 31.1 as the HEAT were both physical in the paint – a deserved nod to Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire there – and mobile on closeouts, with the Spurs shooting 6-of-22 from downtown.

The defense was as strong as it was in December, the offense as fluid as in early February, and the combination offered a 17-second sequence that did all but shut the door. Up 16 with 10 minutes to play in the fourth and the Spurs gathering some momentum, the HEAT forced a missed layup, which Wade took the other way before dropping the ball off to James for a dunk. Immediately after, Wade stole the ball and streaked for a dunk that created one of the most “This is a moment” moments of the season to date.

But this story is incomplete without Bosh. The game will be remembered for it’s incredible harmony, but Bosh – solid defensive contributions aside – gave the offense purpose, providing from every sector of the court on his way to 30 points on 16 shots. When spacing was required, he was there with an elbow jumper. When a mismatch was present, as it was during Matt Bonner’s 7:33 on the court, Bosh went to work in the post. And when the offense fell into a rut, he remedied the situation by getting himself to the line, shooting 10-of-10 on free throws.

Having answered his own call for more involvement in the offense for three-consecutive games, his perspective didn’t hurt either.

“It’s all a part of what we have to go through to get where we want to go,” Bosh said. “Everybody wants more so we have to keep going.”