Aldridge helps balanced Spurs top Heat 117-105
By RAUL DOMINGUEZ
SAN ANTONIO (AP) It was quite an offensive performance for the rolling San Antonio Spurs.
And coach Gregg Popovich pointed out, it also was just one game.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 18 points and San Antonio recorded 30 assists in a 117-105 victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.
"That's always wonderful," Popovich said of the balanced attack for the Spurs. "And then when you sit down and when you start feeling good about it, you realize that Golden State does that every night. Ok, we've got a ways to go, don't get too excited, but it is great to see."
The Warriors are tied with the Houston Rockets for the Western Conference's best record, but the Spurs are only 2 1/2 games back despite the season-long absence of All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard.
With Leonard's return looming from a right quadriceps injury, Aldridge led the Spurs in scoring for the 20th time in 25 games.
While Aldridge has been the team's primary offensive threat in place of Leonard, San Antonio has carved out a 17-8 record by taking advantage of its depth.
"It comes from everybody being willing to make a pass for us to be successful," said veteran Rudy Gay, who signed with the Spurs in the offseason. "We have to find the open man and pass up a good shot for a great shot. We've been doing that well these past few games. I think that's one of the great things about this system, everybody is playing for each other and it ends up in the win column. That's part of the reason I came here."
The Spurs shot 52.9 percent from the field and had seven players score in double figures. Bryn Forbes had 17 points, and Gay finished with 16 in San Antonio's sixth win in seven games.
San Antonio got off to a slow start defensively, just like it did in its comeback victory against Detroit on Monday night. Miami shot 58 percent in the first half, including going 9 for 18 on 3-pointers.
"It was a little bit surprising that we were able to score 35 in the first quarter," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We moved the ball, knocked down some open 3s, that always helps, and then they started to get the game a little bit more to their liking."
San Antonio forced 11 turnovers and outscored Miami 60-47 in the second half.
The Spurs' reserves stepped up again, just as they have done all season. Forbes made three 3s in the third quarter, helping San Antonio to an 86-82 lead heading into the final period after they trailed by four at halftime.
Heat: Starting center Hassan Whiteside missed his fourth straight game with a bruised left knee bone. ... Spoelstra has 451 career victories, three shy of tying Pat Riley for the most in franchise history. ... The Heat have not beaten the Spurs since Jan. 26, 2014, in Miami. Miami is 18-42 all-time against San Antonio in the regular season.
Spurs: Forbes made a career-high five 3-pointers. He became the fourth undrafted player to make at least five 3-pointers in a game for the Spurs, joining Bruce Bowen, Gary Neal and Jaren Jackson. ... The Spurs have made a 3-pointer in 1,000 straight games dating to April 9, 2005, the fourth-longest streak in league history. Dallas holds the record with 1,108 straight games with a 3 from 1999-2012. ... Aldridge has 197 blocks, passing Tiago Splitter for 23rd in franchise history.
Heat: Play Brooklyn on Saturday night in Mexico City in their first game played outside the United States or Canada in franchise history.
Spurs: Host Boston on Friday night in the finale of a three-game homestand.
Gay is still getting acclimated to the Spurs' offense, which has led Popovich to simplify his play-calling when the 12-year veteran is on the court.
"He's just playing basketball," Popovich said. "Every once in a while he knows the play, but we stayed in just basically a little bit of motion for a lot of the game when he was out there so he can just play basketball. Because he's a good player, he doesn't need me to coach him on how to score, he does that well."
Gay is leaning on his teammates to make sure he is in the right place on the court as he grows accustomed to San Antonio after leaving Sacramento as a free agent.
"It's great. I'm asking questions all game and I guess it's forcing me to talk so I can't be wrong," Gay said. "It's a good place to be in. They just have to be on their Ps and Qs, because if they're wrong, I'm telling Pop."
Ginobili had 10 points in 25 minutes. He left briefly after bumping knees with a defender, but returned shortly after going to the back.
"One of those that hurt right there in the moment," Ginobili said. "It's going to hurt tonight and tomorrow a little bit, but it's nothing serious so, it should be OK tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow."
Updated December 7, 2017