If there was any doubt the San Antonio Spurs need LaMarcus Aldridge, it was obvious on Sunday in Miami. The All-Star missed the game to rest, but another All-Star filled in nicely to keep the Silver and Black perfect on the season.
Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points as he led the Spurs to a 106-99 win over the Miami Heat inside the AmericanAirlines Arena to stay perfect on the young season.
Leonard scored 14 of his 27 points in the final quarter after returning to the game after getting cut near his eye. Pau Gasol had his best game as a Spur, scoring 20 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Patty Mills added 18 for San Antonio, who nearly blew a 16-point first half lead.
“The team showed how mentally tough it is tonight,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Heat were led by Hassan Whiteside’s career-high 27 points and 15 rebounds. Goran Dragic scored 25 points and Justise Winslow added 18 for Miami (1-2), who have yet to win a game at home this season.
“You have to play great, almost near perfect basketball down the stretch in order to play for the win,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We were able to take a few punches and get back into this game and take a lead.”
The victory ties the best start in franchise history for the Spurs and they have won their past five meetings in South Beach.
Up next: The Spurs are now 4-0 on the season and will return home to welcome Derrick Favors and the Utah Jazz to the AT&T Center on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.