Duncan's 23 points, 11 rebounds lead Spurs past Heat 111-87; LeBron ditches mask

The Associated Press

Miami Heat forward LeBron James walks on the court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Associated Press + More

By RAUL DOMINGUEZ, Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tim Duncan had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed against the Miami Heat, weathering a sluggish third quarter for an intense and emotional 111-87 victory Thursday.

Tony Parker scored 17 points, including 14 in a wild first half, Boris Diaw added 16 and Kawhi Leonard had 11 for San Antonio, which has won five straight.

Chris Bosh had 24 points, LeBron James added 19, Dwyane Wade had 16 and Michael Beasley 11 for Miami.

James, who ditched the protective mask he was wearing early in the first half, was hounded by Leonard into shooting 6 for 18.

James got rid of the mask that protected his broken nose with four minutes left in the first quarter. He missed his first two attempts sans mask, tossing up a wild 14-footer that banged off the front of the rim and backboard, then botching a reverse layup. His first mask-free basket was a 5-foot running floater over Leonard with 6:26 left in the half.

The first home game for the Spurs against the Heat since losing a heart-wrenching, seven-game NBA Finals brought out a raucous sold-out crowd and sparked high emotions from both teams. Players dived recklessly for loose balls and yelled at officials, while San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich often screamed at his own players.

The Spurs opened the fourth quarter on a 13-6 run, returning to the breakneck attack that led to a 17-point lead in the first half. Duncan's 18-foot jumper gave San Antonio a 99-85 lead with 3:00 remaining, drawing a fist-pounding of the scorer's table by Manu Ginobili as he waited to enter the game.

Parker showed no signs of the lower body problems that sidelined him six games last month, driving unrestrained into the paint. He scored four layups in the first six minutes, curling in a twisting layup against Bosh and later burying a shoulder into the center's chest as they ran down the lane to create enough space for a leaning layup.

"Oh, my chest is burning," Parker said at the scorer's table during a timeout. "Third game back."

Parker played all but the final two minutes of the first quarter, going 5 for 6 from the field in scoring 10 points and dishing out three assists.

The Spurs scored 22 points in the paint in the opening quarter, helping them shoot 79 percent from the field in building a 37-22 lead. San Antonio shot 63 percent from the field in the first half in taking a 62-51 lead.

The Heat kept the Spurs out of the paint in the second half, to the point Popovich screamed, "Tony! Attack!" after his All-Star point guard walked the ball up midway through the third period.

Miami turned up the heat defensively, closing quickly on every pass, forcing the Spurs to give up the ball more quickly than they wanted. San Antonio was 7 for 22 from the field in the third quarter. Miami was 10 for 18 in the third quarter, with James, Wade and Bosh scoring six points each.

Miami went on an 8-2 run four minutes into the third quarter to pull within 69-61, only the second time in the previous 20 minutes San Antonio did not lead by double figures. Bosh and Wade had two baskets apiece in the run.