San Antonio smashes Heat, 111-87, for emotional victory
The Associated Press and Chicago Tribune
SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed against the Miami Heat, weathering a sluggish third quarter for an intense and emotional 111-87 victory Thursday.
Chris Bosh had 24 points and LeBron James 19 for Miami, which suffered its worst loss of the season.
James, who ditched the protective mask he was wearing early in the first half, was hounded by Kawhi Leonard into 6-for-18 shooting.
James got rid of the mask that protected his broken nose with four minutes left in the first quarter.
“I don’t like it,” James said. “It’s that simple; just got frustrated with it early on so I took it off. It didn’t help me, taking it off. It’s probably a game-to-game thing.”
The first home game for the Spurs against the Heat since losing a heart-wrenching, seven-game NBA Finals brought out a raucous sold-out crowd and sparked high emotions from both teams. Players dived recklessly for loose balls and yelled at officials, while San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich often screamed at his own players.
“I’m sure this has some special meaning, to say something different would be silly,” Popovich said, “but we expect them to come out hard and play.”
• Gerald Green scored 25 of his career-high 41 points in the third quarter and Phoenix erased a 16-point deficit to beat visiting Oklahoma City 128-122.
Russell Westbrook scored a season-high 36 for the Thunder. Kevin Durant had 34.
• Blake Griffin had 20 points and 11 rebounds during three thunderous quarters by the Los Angeles Clippers, who handed the Lakers their worst loss in franchise history, 142-94, surpassing a 46-point loss to Portland in 1995.
• Citing sources, ESPN.com reported that Joakim Noah pitched Carmelo Anthony on the merits of playing for Tom Thibodeau and the opportunity to win a title with the Bulls at last month’s All-Star Game.