MIAMI (AP) -San Antonio's huge lead was almost gone, Miami's building was roaring and the Heat were clicking better than they had at any point all night.
With one shot, Manu Ginobili changed everything.
Ginobili scored 22 points, none bigger than a tide-turning 3-pointer with 7:58 left, and the surging Spurs wasted most of a 25-point, third-quarter lead before beating the Heat 88-76 on Tuesday night, San Antonio's eighth win in its last nine games.
``He makes everybody better,' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Ginobili, who's shot at least 50 percent in his last seven games. ``He is one of the finest competitors we have in the league, one of the finest competitors in the world. He's a hell of a player. When he's Manu Ginobili, we're a significantly better basketball team and he's been Manu for the last month.'
George Hill scored 16 points, Richard Jefferson added 15 and Tim Duncan had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who are 4-1 since point guard Tony Parker broke his right hand. The win ensured San Antonio would end the night no worse than No. 7 in the Western Conference standings.
``It's as good as it gets,' Ginobili said. ``We played a really good defensive game.'
Dwyane Wade scored 28 points for Miami, which lost for the first time in its last seven home games. Jermaine O'Neal added 13 points and Udonis Haslem finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, who missed a chance to move past Charlotte for the No. 6 spot in the East race. Charlotte lost at Indiana.
``They came out and played very, very well, ideally how you want to play like on the road,' Wade said. ``They came out and played as a team. All of them. ... They came out and jumped on us early, and we didn't have it.'
By the time Miami found it, it was just too late.
The Spurs never trailed, and used a 26-6 run in the first half to take what seemed like total control. San Antonio made seven of its first nine shots during the run, and by the time Hill made jumpers on consecutive possessions midway through the second quarter, the Spurs' lead had ballooned to 46-20.
``That was an example of a team that was very sharp and ready for this moment, first game of their road trip and they seized it,' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ``There in the first quarter, they set the tone and it carried through the rest of the game. We got beat in two departments - one, any kind of energy, effort, toughness type play ... and simply at the end of the possessions, they were brilliant.'
Miami was stunned, probably for a lot of reasons.
The Heat hadn't trailed by more than one point in any of their three previous games, and hadn't faced anything more than a 12-point deficit during the run of six straight wins on their home floor. The Spurs' 26-point lead matched the sixth-biggest deficit Miami faced in any game this season, including the 34-point hole they dug at San Antonio on Dec. 31.
Unlike that night, the Heat didn't totally stop in the second half.
Quite the contrary.
San Antonio was still leading 69-44 after Duncan's 10th point of the third quarter with 2:24 left, when somehow, the Heat mustered up a rally try. Back-to-back layups by Wade got it started, and his 3-pointer with 5.4 seconds left in the quarter trimmed San Antonio's lead to 71-54 entering the fourth.
That 3-pointer started a 14-0 run by Miami, helped by Haslem - who played through stomach flu - getting three baskets within a 1 1/2-minute stretch, as the Heat got within 71-65 with 8:23 left.
``We gave them too much of a lead, too much of a spot to try to make up,' Heat forward James Jones said. ``When you're playing a good team like that, you don't get very many chances to put them away. They showed it tonight.'
Ginobili was best at the end.
The long 3-pointer from the left side pushed the lead back to nine, and he added another 3 about a minute later - essentially ending any Miami comeback hopes right there.
``Manu's been unbelievable,' Duncan said. ``Obviously with Tony down, he's got the ball in his hands a little more and he's a playmaker. He always has been - at every level he's played at. You can see it in his eyes. He wants the ball, he wants to make the plays, and he can do it.'
NOTES: Heat F Quentin Richardson went 0 for 3 in both games against San Antonio this season, all but one of the five misses from 3-point range. ... It was ``Noche Latina' in Miami, meaning the home team wore black ``El Heat' uniforms and San Antonio donned white ``Los Spurs' jerseys. ... After going scoreless against the Knicks four games ago, Jefferson has scored at least 15 points in every outing since. ... Heat G Kenny Hasbrouck was inactive, hours after signing a 10-day contract with Miami.
The Associated Press News Service
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