If the Miami Heat wish to avoid closing their five-game road trip with a third straight loss, they’ll have to win in a city where their only victory came nine years ago.
The Heat look to snap a seven-game losing streak in San Antonio when they take on the Spurs in a meeting between division leaders.
Miami has never won in three visits to the SBC Center and is 1-17 all-time in San Antonio. The team posted its only road victory over the Spurs on Dec. 23, 1996 at the Alamodome.
San Antonio is tied with Cleveland and the Los Angeles Clippers for the league’s best home record at 7-1.
The Heat opened their road trip with wins over Atlanta and Sacramento, teams with a combined 9-24 record, before losing back-to-back contests to Denver and the Clippers.
Dwyane Wade had 29 points and 12 rebounds and Alonzo Mourning, continuing to fill in admirably for an injured Shaquille O’Neal, added 17 points, 12 boards and four blocks in Monday’s 99-89 loss to the Clippers.
O’Neal hasn’t recovered from a sprained right ankle that has kept him out of all but two games this season. He could practice this week, but probably won’t return to game action until next week at the earliest.
Miami trailed by three points after three quarters on Monday but was held to 14 in the fourth—all scored by Wade or Mourning. Antoine Walker went scoreless for only the second time in his career on 0-for-10 shooting.
Mourning, though, was more unhappy with his team’s defensive performance. The Heat forced just 12 turnovers, allowed the Clippers to shoot 49.4 percent (38-for-77) from the field and watched Elton Brand score 37 points.
“Our lack of defense was the factor that made the difference,” Mourning said. “We didn’t stop their offensive drives. We were scoring and we made enough plays to win the game on the offensive end. We’re a better defensive team than what we’re showing, and we’re hurting ourselves.”
Miami is forcing an Eastern Conference-low 12.2 turnovers per game, and now faces a San Antonio team which leads the league in field-goal shooting at 48.1 percent.
The Spurs extended their winning streak to four and won for the ninth time in 10 games with a 110-85 rout of Orlando on Monday night.
Robert Horry scored a season-high 18 points off the bench to help the defending champions’ reserves outscore the Magic’s bench 45-21.
“(Horry’s) been coming in and scoring and he really knows how to play basketball,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “The basketball IQ for the team really goes up when he’s on the court.”
Manu Ginobili returned to the lineup after missing two games with a bruised right ankle and finished with four points and four assists in 21 minutes.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 6): Heat - 1st place, Southeast Division. Spurs - 1st place, Southwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Wade, 25.8 ppg and 6.7 apg; Mourning, 8.4 rpg. Spurs - Parker, 20.9 ppg and 5.8 apg; Duncan, 11.9 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 13; Heat, 96-92. At Miami, Wade scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and O’Neal finished with 27 as Miami snapped a six-game overall losing streak to the Spurs.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 3-6 on the road; Spurs - 7-1 at home.