SAN ANTONIO —
Slowly, things moved toward evening out. And an inspired start to the third by Miami cut what was a nine-point deficit at intermission to just 61-60 in the first 77 seconds of the second half. Then with 3:05 left in the third, a jumper by Dwyane Wade, followed by a free throw by Shane Battier on the same play (he was fouled while setting a screen) got the Heat within one again, 75-74.
That's when the bottom fell out — again.
"Once we got it back to one, we felt that we'd weathered the storm," Spoelstra said. "Then we missed a couple shots that we normally are accustomed to making, and it just snowballed downhill from there."
Danny Green made a 3-pointer to start the San Antonio surge to close the third, and Manu Ginobili scored seven more points before the end of the period to help push the Spurs' margin to 12 at 87-75 entering the fourth.
By then, the Spurs had more than enough space to weather Miami's last rally. The Heat cut it to 109-101 with just inside of 2 minutes to go, which surely made getting outscored by 24 combined points to end the first and third quarters hurt that much more.
After playing uphill basketball all night, the Heat didn't have enough left for a miracle comeback. And now, Miami's task is simple. Win Tuesday, then win Thursday — or else.
"Ain't got no choice, now," Heat guard Mike Miller said.