Balanced Spurs take control early, hold off Heat

Published: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 9:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 9:58 p.m.

MIAMI -- Tim Duncan scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs held off the Miami Heat 91-84 on Monday night.

The Spurs, who won their third straight, only trailed once and that was for a mere 31 seconds. San Antonio put five players in double figures, ran out to a quick 10-point lead and shot 59 percent in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

George Hill scored 15 points on 4-for-4 shooting for the Spurs, who got 11 points from both Roger Mason and Matt Bonner and 10 from Manu Ginobili.

Dwyane Wade had 24 points and 12 assists his eighth double-double of the season for the Heat, who also got 15 points from Shawn Marion. Michael Beasley had his first double-double, 15 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, which starts a seven-game, 13-day, 7,461-mile road trip in Denver on Wednesday night.

The Heat were trying to sweep the Spurs for only the second time in franchise history after winning at San Antonio in November, a game that Ginobili missed with injury and that Tony Parker left early with a badly sprained ankle.

The Spurs had both this time, yet it was ... Hill and Bonner beating the Heat?

Hill was superb, adding seven assists off the bench to his perfect shooting night. And Bonner's night was highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers, snuffing out Miami rallies with each.

Ginobili sealed it with the defensive play of the night with about 1:33 left rising to erase a layup try by Wade that would have gotten Miami within one.

Instead, Parker found Mason for a pullup jumper at the other end, San Antonio went up five and held on from there.

The Heat were down 21-11 early they started an abysmal 5-for-17 from the floor then closed the gap to a single point on three occasions in the second quarter.

Each of those times, San Antonio had an answer: a 3-pointer by Hill, jumper by Michael Finley, 3-pointer by Bonner.

Marion got the final two baskets of the first half, including a nifty dunk off an assist from Mario Chalmers with 2.9 seconds left, knotting the game at 39.

And with 2:46 left in the third, Marion struck again, this time tipping in Jamaal Magloire's miss for a 56-55 lead Miami's first of the night. It only lasted 31 seconds: Hill connected for a 3-pointer on San Antonio's next possession, putting the Spurs (who entered the night as the league's best shooting team from long range this season) back on top.

It was hardly the last time San Antonio would have an immediate answer.

Marion tied it again late in the third; Bonner hit a 3-pointer on the next trip. Chris Quinn scored to knot the game at 65 early in the fourth; Hill made a 3-pointer, yet again, on the Spurs' very next possession.

One more time, for good measure: Tied at 68, Hill drove on Quinn, got fouled and made the layup to start a three-point play with 9:20 remaining. It started a 7-0 run by the Spurs, who never pulled away, yet never trailed again, either.

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