Heat take losing skid up against tough-luck Spurs

A pair of teams on recent slides will meet Thursday as the Miami Heat carry a three-game losing streak into San Antonio on Thursday to play the Spurs, losers of two straight contests, in a game pushed back seven weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The game was originally scheduled for Dec. 29 but was postponed because of COVID concerns within Miami’s roster.

The Heat will enter after a 110-106 loss at Toronto on Tuesday, marking just the second time this season Miami has dropped three consecutive games. Tuesday’s loss came in the Heat’s fourth game in five days and dropped them to 0-2 on their current six-game road trip.

«This is going to build character for our team from 1-15, and the coaches,» Miami’s Bam Adebayo said after the loss in Toronto. «We usually always find a way to win. I think in my career this is the first time that we’ve played four games in five nights. A lot of us ran out of gas.»

Adebayo had a season-best 32 points, with 11 rebounds in the loss. Jimmy Butler added 16 points, going 10 of 10 from the free-throw line, along with 12 assists, Tyler Herro had 18 points off the bench and P.J. Tucker added 12 points.

Both Butler and Tucker returned to the court after sitting out Monday’s loss in Boston. Miami played without Kyle Lowry on Tuesday, marking the ninth straight game he’s missed because of undisclosed personal reasons. There is no timetable for Lowry’s return, but he is not expected to play against the Spurs on Thursday.

The Spurs will look to rebound from a 124-120 loss at home to Golden State on Tuesday. San Antonio coughed up a 17-point, late-third quarter lead in a game in which the Warriors were without most of their star players and dropped its second straight contest.

«Golden State got 28 second-chance points (in the game), and we turned it over six times in the fourth quarter,» Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. «Hopefully, this will be a good lesson for us, because their offensive execution was excellent, and it wore us down in the second half.

«We tried to do it more on our own than we should, because we are a team that has to do it with each other. We didn’t do that.»

Dejounte Murray poured in 27 points for the Spurs in the loss. Keldon Johnson added 21 points, Derrick White scored 16, Devin Vassell contributed 14, Lonnie Walker IV had 11 and Doug McDermott tallied 10 points for San Antonio, which has blown a double-digit fourth-quarter lead in its past two defeats.

The Spurs continue to be a team that stays in most games until the final minutes finding that finishing kick has been inconsistent. San Antonio is 7-17 in clutch situations, defined as entering the five minutes of a game either leading or trailing by five points or fewer. That mark ranks next to last in the league, ahead of only the Orlando Magic.

«It’s frustrating, because it’s always right there,» Murray said. «How many times I get up here, or any player gets up here, and be like ‘Oh, we’re right there?’ It’s frustrating because we do fight hard from beginning to end. It’s just that execution, that discipline, trying to get over that hump and win the basketball game.»

–Field Level Media