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Heat drop close scuffle with worst-in-West San Antonio Spurs

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before Saturday’s matchup with the San Antonio Spurs that he did not reference the Spurs’ poor record when talking to his team.

“That’s just way too dangerous,” Spoelstra said before the game.

Although the Spurs entered the game at 7-18 — tied for the worst record in the Western Conference — Spoelstra proved prescient as the Heat went on to absorb a 115-111 loss to San Antonio at FTX Arena.

“That’s part of the process of this league: it’s sometimes going through some pain,” Spoelstra said. “Hopefully, this pain will drive us to a higher level. We need to get to a higher level. We need to get to a better level, collectively. And that’s what I’m hoping this frustration, pain, whatever, anger — whatever adjective you want to fill in there — hopefully, that drives us to a better place as we move forward.”

Miami (12-15) got out to a quick lead on Saturday, going ahead early in the first quarter and holding that lead for the remainder of the period. But San Antonio outscored the Heat 34-28 in the second quarter and took a lead into halftime.

But the Heat pulled back into the lead in the third quarter, thanks in large part to Tyler Herro’s hot shooting. The Miami guard knocked down four threes in the third quarter, spurring the Heat to a seven-point lead with 7:02 left in the third quarter. But it was not enough to keep Miami ahead. The Spurs kept pace and had a two-point lead after three periods.

The two teams exchanged blows in a dogfight in the final quarter, but the Spurs pulled back ahead early in the quarter and held off the Heat’s attempt at a comeback.

Forward Jimmy Butler helped keep the Heat in the game late, scoring eight of his 30 points in the fourth quarter. Miami had an opportunity to extend the game with 14 seconds remaining, but the Heat could not knock down a tying or game-winning shot.

“When these games always end up in a last possession, you always think about … the missed shots,” Spoelstra said. “We had probably three or four down the stretch where we missed that were makeable shots. … You always think about the missed shots, but there’s a series of probably 25-30 defensive plays we could’ve done better.”

Five Degrees of Heat from Saturday’s game:

1. Another brutal loss: Miami already dropped one game this week to one of the worst teams in the NBA, falling 116-96 at home to Detroit on Tuesday. Facing one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, the Heat suffered another tough defeat against a struggling team.

“That’s the league for you. This game, as a whole, will for sure humble you,” Butler said. “I think that’s where we’re at. We think we’re really good — which we are — but I think we’ve got to go out and prove it more, be together every single possession on both sides of the floor and … get some dubs.”

2. Points in the paint: The Heat entered Saturday’s game surrendering an NBA-low 44.9 points in the paint this season, but the struggling Spurs still surpassed that, notching 54 points in the paint.

Miami’s defense struggled to keep the Spurs in check. San Antonio shot 53.8 percent from the field.

“They just run their sets like a usual Spurs team,” center Bam Adebayo said. “They run their sets. You’re not going to get them off their rocker. They’re just going to keep running their sets and running their sets. That’s the biggest thing they did. I feel like they just stuck to what they knew.”

3. Out-rebounded: Another symptom of San Antonio outplaying Miami in the paint was the result on the boards. The Spurs racked up 46 rebounds, while the Heat had 32.

“It wasn’t necessarily an effort thing, but their cuts often led them to offensive-rebounding position,” Spoelstra said. “When we weren’t able to put a body on them on some of the tip-out rebounds, we weren’t there on the perimeter. There were probably three or four where we could’ve grabbed it, but we thought the ball was going out of bounds.

“You can’t leave them to chance, and sometimes those end up being karma plays. If you have an opportunity to go for it, put your mitts on it, you’ve got to go for it.”

4. Oladipo working his way back: After missing the first 24 games of the season due to a knee injury, Oladipo provided quality minutes for the Heat on Saturday. He played a season-high 23 minutes and notched 11 points, three rebounds and three assists. However, he did foul out late in the fourth quarter.

“The most important thing is just getting his minutes, getting his work and not having any kind of setback,” Spoelstra said. “Everything is encouraging right now, so far. He felt great yesterday. I think being able to bounce back today and have an active game was good. We’ll continue to build on this. We’ll try to keep the minutes where they are, roughly where they are now.”

5. Robinson back in action: Forward Duncan Robinson had missed eight of Miami’s last 11 games with a left ankle sprain, including the Heat’s win over the Clippers on Thursday. But Robinson got back on the court Saturday, checking in during the third quarter.

Robinson, who entered the game averaging 17.1 minutes per game, played eight minutes and scored three points.

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Source: Berkshire mont

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