In their fifth preseason game, the San Antonio Spurs (3-2) fell to the Miami Heat (3-2) in the final quarter on Saturday as the Heat used a fourth quarter rally late in the game to claim the 104-101 victory.
As it is in preseason basketball, some core players played limited minutes and some stars like Tony Parker played less than nine minutes, while LeBron James did not play at all. The Spurs were led by Danny Green who seems to have regained his rhythm again as Green led the team with 17 points, while Tim Duncan played just 16 minutes but still posted a quiet 15 points.
Leading scorer from a week ago, Wesley Witherspoon, saw no action on Saturday while the Miami broadcasters mentioned that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has narrowed the final roster spot down between Eddy Curry and Derrick Brown (H/T Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News).
Here’s the rundown of the game in Miami on Saturday, read how productive Curry was in the second quarter.
First quarter: Spurs 26 , Heat 30
Player of the quarter: Green’s shooting, Kawhi Leonard’s activity – Though they played early in the first quarter, both Green and Leonard (10 points) were impressive in their early minutes. Green started the game with five straight points as his shooting rhythm seemed to be back in place again, and Leonard’s activity on defense in his minutes on the floor made him a known presence on the floor. In the first, Leonard gathered a steal and limited Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade from taking shots when he was defending them as best as he could.
Play of the quarter: Midway through the first, Manu Ginobili drove into the lane with Dwayne Wade defending him. He evaded Wade and used a euro-step to get through Mike Miller as he made a left-handed layup on the other side of the basket through the two Heat defenders. It prompted the Miami commentators to give Ginobili some credit for still being able to score creatively at the age of 35.
Second quarter: Spurs 57, Heat 62
Player of the quarter: Eddy Curry – If there was one player who made an impact in a much needed way, it was Curry in the second quarter. Curry was extra productive for the Spurs by taking his defender 1-on-1 and drawing fouls, dunking after gaining position in the paint, and even making a jump-hook right over his defender. The smaller Heat forwards and centers struggled to box out Curry in the second quarter as well. He went into halftime leading the Spurs with nine points.
Play of the quarter: Leonard to Boris Diaw – Leonard’s all-around game is beginning to show itself as his passing (four assists) was identified on one particular play in the second quarter. Leonard had the ball at the top of the key; he read the entire floor and then found Boris Diaw underneath the basket. Leonard zipped the ball to Diaw for an easy two points.
Third quarter: Spurs 85, Heat 77
Player of the quarter: Gary Neal, Green – Neal (12 points) and Green helped the Spurs retake the lead against the Heat in the third with their outside shooting that put the team on several short runs in the quarter. By the time the quarter ended, Green led all Spurs scorers with 17 points.
Play of the quarter: Early in the third, rookie Nando De Colo once again made the similarity connection between he and Ginobili as De Colo found Duncan underneath the basket for an easy lay-up as Duncan gained position in the post and De Colo found him right on target for the basket.
Fourth quarter: Spurs 101, Heat 104
The Spurs went into the fourth quarter with the lead but surrendered 27 points in the final quarter as the Heat retook the lead in the waning minutes to eventually end the game after Cory Joseph missed a desperation 3-pointer.
The Spurs will head to Orlando to face the Magic in a back-to-back preseason game on Sunday. There’s a chance either the starters won’t play at all, or they won’t play any heavy minutes. You can most likely expect to get a dose of the bench play heavy minutes against the new-look Orlando team that features former Denver Nuggets guard Aaron Affalo and former Spurs assistant coach Jacque Vaughn who is now the Magic head coach.
The final spot
Eddy Curry: Though he had a very productive first half on offense, knowing where to be and setting useful screens along with his scoring, Curry still misses a lot of reads on defense. At times it looks as if he’s not playing defense with as much energy as he exerts on offense. On one particular play in the second quarter, he was involved in a pick-and-roll, the guard got by him and he just walked back toward the basket, then as the guard missed the shot, Curry’s original player he was supposed to be boxing out snuck in for an offensive rebound. Even if he makes the team, he still needs to show 100% commitment on defense in order to gain valuable rotation minutes over DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner.
Derrick Brown: Brown did not play in Saturday’s game against the Heat.