NBA:Spurs close out year by crushing Heat

‘THROTTLED’:Michael Beasley and Dwyane Wade were allowed to rest the last quarter and watch the massacre, with Miami only managing 10 field goals in the second half

AFP , SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Sat, Jan 02, 2010 - Page 20

Tim Duncan scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on Thursday as San Antonio launched their New Year’s celebrations with a 108-78 victory over Miami.

Argentina’s Manu Ginobili added 18 points for the Spurs, who have won 10 of their last 12.

But Miami were the first vanquished opponents in that stretch with a winning record, a fact that tempered Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s enthusiasm for the accomplishment.

The last time the Spurs had beaten a team with a winning record was on Nov. 27 against Houston. Since then they had faltered against division leaders Boston and Denver and fallen to Utah, Phoenix and Portland.

Prior to the game, Popovich indicated he was “not quite as impressed” with the streak as he might have been had it come against higher-caliber competition.

“If all nine [recent] wins were against Cleveland, Orlando, Phoenix or the Lakers, I’d be pretty impressed with us,” Popovich said. “But that’s not the case. Hence, I’m not quite as impressed.”

But he couldn’t argue with his team’s performance on Thursday, as they handed the Heat their most humiliating loss this season.

Michael Beasley scored 26 and Dwyane Wade had 16 before watching the blowout from the bench in the fourth. They were the only Miami players to score in double figures.

Miami made just 10 field goals in the second half.

“We couldn’t get anything to go for us,” Wade said. “They played exceptionally well. Normally with a team when we get down, we can make a run, but we just couldn’t do it tonight.”

“They throttled us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We got what we deserved tonight. Very disappointing loss.”

Duncan poured in 13 points in the first quarter and the Spurs barely needed him after leading 58-49 at halftime.

He shot 10 of 13 from the field as the Spurs rolled to their biggest victory margin of the season.

France’s Tony Parker had 15 points and rookie DeJuan Blair had 14 for the Spurs.

Ginobili said the victory was a sign the Spurs were moving in the right direction.

“I believe that we’ve got a lot to improve to really become contenders and be respected as one of the best teams in the league,” Ginobili said. “We’re not that steady so far this season, but we’re on the right track.”

■ROCKETS V MAVERICKS

REUTERS, HOUSTON

Aaron Brooks scored 30 points, including six three-pointers, to lead the Houston Rockets to a 97-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday.

The Texas rivals were tied at 89-89 with 2:11 left on the clock when Shane Battier drained a three-pointer to give the Rockets the lead. Brooks added another three on the next scoring shot to widen the gap.

The Mavericks (22-10) trailed by 13 points during the third quarter, but fought their way back and had a chance to tie the game at the buzzer. Jason Kidd’s long-range shot just missed.

“This was just a great win. Our effort was tremendous tonight,” Rockets coach Rick Adelman told reporters. “We played through a lot of stuff, so I was really happy to finish the year like that.”

Jason Terry top scored for the Mavericks with 20 points while Josh Howard chipped in with 16.

Carl Landry, who lost several teeth after a collision with Dirk Nowitzki in their last encounter, scored 15 off the bench, while Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry each contributed 12 for the Rockets (20-13).

Nowitzki struggled to open up Houston’s defense and finished with 11 points.

“[We disrupted Nowitzki] a little bit,” Landry said. “I’ve played against him a few times. This is my third year, so I kind of understand what he likes to do and his strengths. I just tried to take away his strengths.”

■THUNDER V JAZZ

AFP, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA

Kevin Durant scored 31 points, but it was Nick Collison’s free throws with 4.5 seconds left that sealed Oklahoma City’s 87-86 NBA victory over Utah on Thursday.

Collison came up with the ball after Durant missed a jump shot and was fouled by Paul Millsap.

Collison, who had missed three of his previous four free throws, made both as the Thunder notched their first five-game winning streak in more than four years.

Ronnie Price missed a three-pointer at the final buzzer for the Jazz, who got a final surge from Deron Williams to pull ahead before Collison’s game-winning free throws.

Carlos Boozer scored 17 points, and Mehmet Okur had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Utah. Williams scored 10 of his 14 points in the last five minutes, including a three-point play in the final minute that gave the Jazz the lead.

Durant surpassed 30 points for the sixth straight game, tying a club record set by Spencer Haywood in January 1972.

The victory gave the Thunder an 18-14 record, the same as the Jazz. At this time last year, their New Year’s Eve victory over Golden State was only their fourth of the season.

In other NBA action, it was:

• Bulls 98, Pistons 87

• Clippers 104, 76ers 88