Spurs open road trip with win in Miami: Three standout players

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Photo courtesy: NBA.com

The San Antonio Spurs opened their four-game road trip with a 117-100 win over the Miami Heat at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday night. Just like their last road game in Chicago last Saturday, the Spurs and Miami kept it close until the third quarter. San Antonio went on a 15-2 run to fully take control of the game, going up by as many as 18 points and never trailed again.

Here is what went good and what went bad for the Spurs on Wednesday. As well as the three standout players, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and Brandon Paul.

The Good:

  • The Spurs scored 117 points, their season high. The offense picked up in the second half as LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay combined for 53 points in the victory.
  • Coming into the game, San Antonio was just 26 percent from three-point range. On Wednesday, the Silver and Black finished 10-for-17 (58 percent) from beyond the arc.
  • Rudy Gay is back, everyone!

The Bad:

  • Patty Mills is averaging just 3.7 points per game in the first four games of the season. He was cold from the floor on Wednesday, shooting 1-for-4 and finishing with three points.
  • San Antonio struggled defensively, allowing an opponent to score 100 points for the first time this season. Miami got to the rim with ease in the second quarter when Aldridge and Gasol went to the bench, leaving coach Gregg Popovich unhappy following the game.

Standout players:

  LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge continued his hot start with a season-best 31 points to go along with seven rebounds. With Miami big man Hassan Whiteside sidelined with an injury, Aldridge used that to his advantage. He dominated the paint and Heat forward James Johnson in the process. He found success from the the baseline, beyond the arc, and the paint. In his first four games, the All-Star forward has scored 20-plus points and continues to look comfortable in the San Antonio offense.

   Rudy Gay: Spurs fans saw the old Rudy Gay in Miami on Wednesday. I’m talking the Rudy Gay from his days as a Memphis Grizzlies forward. Gay matched his jersey number with 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting and was 9-of-11 from the free throw line. Gay scored from the arc, the wing, and he used his size to get it going against some of Miami’s smaller guards. This is a good sign for Gay, who continues to look better with each passing game. If he and Aldridge can hold down the fort until Kawhi Leonard gets back, the Spurs could do something very special this season.

   Brandon Paul: The rookie played 19 minutes and scored seven points in his time on the floor. Popovich threw out a lineup of Paul, Gay, Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, and Patty Mills in the third quarter. The lineup made the difference as that sparked a 15-2 run for the Silver and Black to fully take control of the game.

Fans can see exactly why many who follow the Spurs have been high on Paul’s game since training camp. Paul continues to get playing time and earning Pop’s trust in the process. As the season goes on, the rookie could prove to be the X-Factor for this San Antonio squad.

Up next: The Spurs will continue their road trip on Friday when they take on the Orlando Magic at 6 p.m. at the Amway Center in Orlando.

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