Spurs stay hot, pull away from Heat for 95-81 win
MIAMI (AP) Something about the Miami Heat brings out the best in Kawhi Leonard.
And with the playoffs looming, the NBA champions might be peaking.
Leonard had 22 points, nine rebounds and four steals, Tony Parker added 16 points in his 1,000th NBA game, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Heat 95-81 on Tuesday night.
''We played good D,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after his team's fourth straight win, holding opponents under 92 points in each of those games.
Leonard was NBA Finals MVP last year against Miami, and has scored at least 20 points on at least 53 percent shooting in each of his last five games against the Heat. He excelled on both ends Tuesday, helping hold Dwyane Wade to a 6-for-20 shooting night.
''He has a way of knocking it all sideways,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''Four steals, it felt like 10.''
Tim Duncan had 12 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which went 12-3 in March - the league's second-best record behind only Golden State. Boris Diaw scored 11 points.
Goran Dragic had 19 points and Wade added 15 for Miami. Hassan Whiteside returned from a three-game absence because of a lacerated hand and scored 10 points.
It was Parker's 718th win in his 1,000 games. That's the best winning percentage in league history with that many games played.
''When you see all of the names and obviously all of the history in the NBA, that's pretty cool,'' Parker said. ''I felt very blessed to play with the Spurs and I always said it's been a great situation, we have great guys and all we care about is winning.''
San Antonio stayed No. 6 in the West, and could clinch a playoff berth Wednesday in Orlando.
The Heat remained in the No. 7 spot in the East, only a half-game up on No. 8 Brooklyn.
It was still a game at the half, with Miami down just 47-42. But the Spurs pulled away after the break, going up by as many as 15 in the third and then stretching it out to 21 in the fourth.
Miami closed to 85-75 on a putback by Chris Andersen with 3:32 left, but Parker hit a floater from the right baseline on the ensuing San Antonio possession and the rally try was quickly snuffed out.
''They came out and played a good third quarter,'' Wade said. ''Offensively they got it going. Defensively they turned it up a notch. They did what they're supposed to do. They're playing good right now. At this point, they've got more guns than we have. They're the better team.''
San Antonio is now two wins away from its 16th consecutive 50-win season, with eight games remaining. The last time the Spurs didn't win 50 was 1998-99, when they had a good excuse - that was only a 50-game season.
Spurs: Parker is now the second player in Spurs history with 1,000 regular-season appearances, behind Duncan (1,323). ... Duncan needed the ring finger on his right hand taped after the third quarter, but returned for part of the fourth. ... Manu Ginobili had plenty of Argentinian-flag-waving fans, some chanting ''Ole!''
Heat: The Heat lost for only their second time in their last 10 home games, and now are back under .500 in Miami this season (18-19). ... Mario Chalmers beat the halftime buzzer with a 53-foot heave. He finished with 10 points. ... Udonis Haslem (flu), Shabazz Napier (hip) and Luol Deng (knee) were sidelined, as Miami used a team-record-tying 30th lineup.
Since losing to the Knicks eight games ago, the Spurs have been rolling. Out of 384 game minutes since that defeat, the Spurs have led for 334 minutes and 11 seconds - 87 percent of the time. They've trailed for 35:14 (9.2 percent) and been tied for 14:35 (3.8 percent). On Tuesday, they led for 44:21, trailing for only 1:20.
Miami went 6:34 without a field goal to open the game, its longest such stretch of the Wade era in Miami.
Spurs: At Orlando on Wednesday.
Heat: At Cleveland on Thursday.