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San Antonio Spurs top Miami Heat for another home win

By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange   |   March 24, 2016 at 1:53 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- It's going to take a Herculean effort to beat San Antonio on its home floor, even more so now that the Spurs are learning to revel in the pressure created by their home winning streak as the NBA regular season heads into its final three weeks.

San Antonio looked and played like a team possessed on Wednesday, took no prisoners and remained unbeaten at home via a 112-88 romp past the Miami Heat as Kawhi Leonard scored career-high-matching 32 points before being forced from the game with a quad injury.

In the process, the Spurs wiped away a bad taste from their collective mouths that festered after San Antonio coughed up a 23-point lead and lost to Charlotte on the road on Monday.

Leonard left the floor midway through the third quarter and headed to the San Antonio locker room with a towel over his face. He did not return, but he was not needed as the Spurs ran off an 18-4 in the first five minutes after he left and built their lead from 16 to 29 points during that stretch.

Team officials announced Leonard sustained a right quad contusion.

"(Leonard) had to come out when he did because it was a good contusion and it was just stiff," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "It wouldn't work. To put him back in wouldn't have made any sense."

The Spurs (60-11) improved to 36-0 at the AT&T Center, and they have also won a franchise-best 45 consecutive regular-season games at home since a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in March 2015.

San Antonio's home streak is the second longest in NBA history, trailing only the continuing streak by Golden State (50 games entering Wednesday's contest against the Los Angeles Clippers). The 36-0 home start is second best in NBA history behind the Chicago Bulls' 37-0 stretch to open 1995-96.

Popovich complemented his team for the way it bounced back from its uncharacteristic loss to the Hornets.

"They played very well tonight," Popovich said of the Spurs. "We had great team defense, good concentration and we moved the ball well."

Reserves Boban Marjanovic and Kevin Martin added 19 and 12 points, respectively, for the Spurs, who have not lost back-to-back games this season. Thirteen players saw the floor for San Antonio, and 12 of them scored, with reserve guard Andre Miller the lone scoreless participant.

Martin, who was signed by the Spurs on March 9 after being waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves, has quickly become a key cog in San Antonio's second unit.

"We talked about taking it slow and getting me up to speed on the plays and things like that," said Martin, who's in his 11th NBA season. "Over the past week or so we've kicked it into a little higher gear, so I felt comfortable. It's all a process."

Miami (41-30) was led by reserve Josh Richardson's 17 points. Dwyane Wade scored 16 points, and reserve Hassan Whiteside added 12 points and 14 rebounds. Gerald Green scored 13 points for Miami, and Justise Winslow hit for 10 points for the Southeast Division-leading Heat, who had a two-game win streak snapped.

All four of Miami's bench players scored in double figures, combining for 52 points.

"San Antonio beat us on both ends of the court, and Leonard really set the tone for them tonight," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We just couldn't manufacture any kind of rhythm and our turnovers and quick shots got us into trouble. You look up and boom, two timeouts later it already a 20-point game. That is a very good defense."

Leonard showed he was ready to produce a big night when he had eight of the Spurs' first 12 points as they built a 12-4 lead five minutes into the game. Miami whittled away at the advantage, with five straight points for Josh McRoberts and a strong end-of-quarter contribution by Whiteside (six points and four rebounds in just four minutes of action) bringing the Heat to within 26-21 at the end of the period.

A 9-2 run by Miami punctuated by a running dunk by Richardson handed the Heat its first lead of the game, 30-28, three minutes into the second quarter. But as has been the norm this season for the Spurs at home, they responded with a 15-4 run fueled by their bench, with five points in that surge from Patty Mills and another five from Martin.

San Antonio led 56-47 at halftime as Leonard scored 24 points in 18 minutes of court time, three points more than his per-game average.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich earned his eighth technical foul of the season with 2:43 left in the second quarter when arguing a possession call with referee Gary Zielinski.

The third quarter belonged to the Spurs and their defense, which turned up the intensity and held Miami to 16 points while building an 88-63 lead. The Heat shot 7-for-17 in the quarter while San Antonio hit 12 of its 20 shots and owned as much as 29-point advantage. Danny Green had all nine of his points for the Spurs in the third quarter.

"We just kind of ran out of gas," Winslow said. "The first half was a good assessment and the second half was a little lopsided. There's a lot of things we can learn from, but there's some of that stuff that you've just got to forget about."

NOTES: The Spurs posted a 119-101 victory against the Heat at American Airlines Arena on Feb. 9. ... Heat G Goran Dragic was originally drafted by San Antonio in the second round (45th overall) in the 2008 NBA Draft. ... Miami reserve C Hassan Whiteside scored 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting and pulled down 14 rebounds Tuesday in the Heat's 113-99 win over New Orleans. Whiteside leads the NBA in blocked shots (3.8 per game), and he owned a 75.7 field-goal percentage while averaging 18.8 points and 11.0 rebounds over the previous four games before Wednesday. ...The Spurs sputtered in the second half Monday in a 91-88 loss at Charlotte. San Antonio shot 37 percent while scoring just 37 points over the final two quarters to squander an early 23-point lead, their largest in a loss during the 19-year Tim Duncan era.

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