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News » Spurs stifle Heat with impressive defense

Spurs stifle Heat with impressive defense

Spurs stifle Heat with impressive defense
MIAMI - Dwyane Wade had just intercepted a Tony Parker pass late in the fourth quarter Monday night, and in a flash he was gone. Down the floor, ball in hand, one of the NBA's top finishers poised to soon do what he does best.

Manu Ginobili had other ideas.

Playing Don Beebe to Wade's Leon Lett, Ginobili materialized from thin air, slapping away Wade's finger-roll for a demonstrative block that started the Spurs on their own fast break.

That play, in a nutshell, told the story of the Spurs' 91-84 victory over Miami at AmericanAirlines Arena.

On a night in which neither team had much success putting a round ball in a round hole, the team that won was the team that made it most difficult for its opponent to do so.

"We played defense for 48 minutes," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We made a couple of mistakes here and there on offense, turned it over and got cold for a couple of stretches. But the defense was sound for 48 minutes."

That was a blessed sight to Popovich, who at times recently had fretted over his team's inability to defend consistently from opening tip to final horn.

The Spurs had no such problems Monday, especially down the stretch. They limited Miami to just one basket in the final 3:35, a relatively benign 3-pointer from Michael Beasley with 13.4 seconds left.

The Spurs' defensive tough-guy act to allowed them hold on for their 14th victory in the past 17 games, making them the hottest team in the NBA over that stretch. It also allowed them, at 23-11, to retain sole possession in the Southwest Division.

"That's how we're going to have to play," Spurs guard Roger Mason Jr. said. "If we're going to be a championship team, defense has to be our stamp."

Tim Duncan scored 19 points to lead the Spurs, who also got a boost off the bench from rookie guard George Hill. Hill made all four of his shots en route to 15 points, his most since posting 19 against Chicago on Nov. 26.

The Spurs made 10 of 22 3-pointers, including 5 of 8 in the second half.

"Seemed like they made every 3-point shot they took in the second half," Wade said.

The name of the game, however, was defense. A look at some other Spurs' offensive numbers shows why.

Ginobili, who made what Miami coach Erik Spoelstra called the play of the game on defense, scored 10 points and shot 5 of 14. Parker, the Spurs' leading scorer coming in, had a strangely quiet night, neither particularly good nor bad on the way to eight points. Mason, the team's top 3-point shooter, was 1 of 4 from long range and 5 of 12 overall for 11 points.

Wade had 24 points to lead the Heat, but needed 26 field-goal attempts to get that. At times, he seemed capable of willing Miami (18-15) to victory in a game the Spurs trailed for only 30 seconds.

He scored. He assisted (12 times). Once, he hot-potato tapped a rebound to Udonis Haslem for a big basket. He had four steals.

Despite Wade's box-score filling night, Popovich was pleased with the defensive job his team did against him.

"He's got the ball a lot, so he's going to get a lot of shots," Popovich said. "If you can keep him from getting layup and dunk, layup and dunk, then we're happy."

With the Spurs clinging to a three-point lead with 1:31 to play, Wade seemed on his way to one or the other. That's when Ginobili entered the TV frame.

Wade didn't see him coming, but then again neither did anybody else.

"I don't know where that came from," Popovich said. "I didn't see it coming until the ball was blocked and going back the other way."

It quickly found its way to Mason, who buried a long 2-pointer to push the Spurs ahead by five. Moments later, Parker finished a left-handed runner to make it 88-81 with 26.8 seconds to go.

Game over.

The Spurs had finished off the Heat, and had finished off another grinding three-games-in-four-nights stretch with another victory. For that, they have their defense to thank.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 7, 2009


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