SAN ANTONIO (AFP) – The San Antonio Spurs cruised past Miami 98-85 on Friday in an NBA finals re-match that underscored how far the Heat have fallen.
Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points and French point guard Tony Parker added 21 for the Spurs in what proved to be an anti-climactic showdown of the past two NBA champions.
Tim Duncan chipped in 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who gave head coach Gregg Popovich his 999th career victory.
Britain’s Luol Deng scored 17 points and Chris Bosh added 14 with seven rebounds for the Heat, who have dropped four of five games since Dwyane Wade began sitting out with a hamstring injury.
Miami, yet to redefine themselves since the departure of superstar LeBron James, trailed by 13 early, but produced an 11-0 scoring run that bridged the first and second quarters to trim the deficit to two at 30-28.
But from there, reigning champions San Antonio dominated.
A 13-0 Spurs run, highlighted by two three-pointers from Leonard, extended San Antonio’s lead to 45-30. The hosts led 52-41 at halftime.
Leonard and Parker scored 16 points apiece in the first half and combined for 11 points in the third quarter.
Tiago Splitter’s turnaround shot gave the Spurs a 77-61 lead going into the fourth quarter, and the margin swelled to as many as 20 points in the final frame.
The Spurs open a nine-game road trip at Toronto on Sunday, when Popovich can become the ninth coach in NBA history with 1,000 wins.