LeBron, Heat snap three-game skid
First half, all San Antonio.
Second half, all Miami - and then some.
LeBron James had 33 points and 10 assists, Chris Bosh scored 30 points - the 6-foot-11 forward going coast-to-coast for a dunk to punctuate his effort - and the Heat used a historic third-quarter turnaround to erase what was a 17-point deficit and beat the Spurs 120-98 on Tuesday night, snapping a three-game slide in an most unpredictable manner.
''We have a great luxury with three players who can do special things when you need it,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
And one of them was in street clothes. Dwyane Wade sat out his fourth game of the season, this time because of a sprained right ankle. No matter: Miami shot 68 percent in the second half, outscoring the Spurs 71-35 after halftime.
''We should be embarrassed,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
For the first 24 minutes, it was the Spurs doing all the embarrassing. San Antonio connected on 12 of its first 15 shots, led 52-35 with 3 minutes to go in the first half, and had Danny Green hit a pair of buzzer-beaters - the first from the top of the key to end the first quarter, the second from near midcourt to beat the halftime horn - to take a 63-49 lead into intermission.
What happened next left both sides befuddled.
''Can't explain it,'' Bosh said.
Offered Spurs guard Tony Parker: ''That's basketball.''
Miami outscored San Antonio 39-12 in the third quarter - matching the second-largest differential for any quarter in Heat history, and matching the second-worst differential for a period in Spurs history, according to STATS LLC. James was 7 for 9 in the third quarter. The Spurs - combined - were 4 for 19. James hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to put Miami up 72-68, and the Heat simply never stopped rolling from there.
James finished 12 for 21 from the floor, almost erasing any memory of him missing his first four shots. He was battling a cold, but offered no excuse afterward.
''Hopefully I can get over this in the next couple days where I can get back to myself,'' James said. ''I just tried to push through it in the third quarter. My teammates did a great job of finding me and stepping up defensively. We all did that.''
Mike Miller made his season debut for Miami after continuing to recover from hernia surgery and shot 6 for 6 on 3-pointers, finishing with 18 points and matching his most makes beyond the arc since joining the Heat. Spoelstra said the plan was to ease Miller back, playing him for ''five or six'' minutes. Miller played 15.
''Every once in a while you get going when you're a shooter,'' Miller said. ''I just happened to do that.''
The Heat are now 4-0 without Wade this season, 8-1 since early last season without the 2006 NBA finals MVP. And unquestionably, this was the most improbable of those victories.
The comeback from down 17 matched the NBA's fifth-largest this season.
Before the game, Popovich summed his team's all-or-nothing record - 9-0 at home, now 0-5 on the road - with his usual dry wit. ''We're really good at home and on the road, we (stink). That's the biggest difference,'' Popovich said.
He was half-serious, and it certainly didn't apply to the way the Spurs started Tuesday.
San Antonio just attacked the basket with little resistance in the early going, eight of its first 12 makes coming from no more than 11 feet and most of them directly at the rim. James was terrible at the start, missing everything from layups to free throws, and the Spurs led 35-26 after the opening quarter.
Everything was going San Antonio's way.
And then, well, nothing went the Spurs' way - especially after James found his stride.
''There's not much you can do,'' Parker said. ''He was on fire in the third quarter. He's coming in fast breaks and he's shooting threes. There is no defense against that.''
Notes: Miller appeared to get slightly shaken up after taking a tumble in the first half, limped for a few moments, but remained in the game. ... Spurs G Gary Neal not only played through a bruised thigh, but his luck may be changing. Popovich said Neal narrowly avoided getting his vehicle struck by a large truck on the way to the airport Monday for the trip to Miami. ... Duncan has now faced the Heat 25 times. The Spurs are 17-8 in those games.