San Antonio was 4-1 on its longest trip of the season, including wins over Seattle and the Los Angeles Lakers, before Sunday’s 96-92 loss to the Heat. Tim Duncan had missed two of the previous three games with a right ankle sprain, and the Spurs suffered their only other defeat on the trip in his absence, 95-87 to Washington last Wednesday.
Duncan struggled a bit against Miami, shooting 5-for-14 from the field, but finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in a game that had 22 lead changes, 22 ties and neither team leading by more than six points.
“It was a good game,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who’ll oppose Heat coach Stan Van Gundy again in Sunday’s All-Star game. “Both teams did a real good job and down the stretch (Heat guard) Dwyane Wade hit a couple of real huge shots. We all saw them; they were great.”
“They had some huge 3s and a lot of fast-break points in the fourth quarter,” said Parker, who has scored 20-plus points in five straight games, his longest such streak in two years. “We made too many mistakes.”
The Spurs, an NBA-best 23-1 at home, play 10 of their first 12 games after the break at the SBC Center. They won’t play more than three straight road games for the remainder of the season.
The Hornets are enjoying one of their best stretches of the season with three victories in four games, only the second time they’ve done that in 2004-05. New Orleans won at Portland last Wednesday and at home against Golden State on Friday before falling 97-94 at Orlando on Sunday.
P.J. Brown, who sprained his ankle against the Magic, stayed in the lineup Monday and helped the Hornets kick off a four-game homestand with a 98-96 win over Washington. Even though coach Byron Scott advised him to rest, Brown hit two key jumpers in the fourth quarter and came up with a crucial offensive rebound to set up the winning points.
“I wish we had 12 P.J.s,” Scott said. “He’s the ultimate warrior. I had a gut feeling he wouldn’t be able to play after watching him last night. That just shows what type of character he has.”
The Hornets, who also face Seattle and Denver on the homestand, will try to win three straight on their home court for the first time since March.