Leonard comes up big late, Spurs top Heat 106-99

MIAMI (AP) — Kawhi Leonard was getting a cut under his right eye fussed with, and out of his left one he could see the Miami Heat take their first lead since the opening minutes.

He wasn’t worried.

When Leonard returned, order was restored for San Antonio. Bandaged up but otherwise unbothered, Leonard scored 14 of his 27 points in the final 6:04 — including the last 12 for the Spurs, who beat Miami 106-99 on Sunday night to remain unbeaten at 4-0.

“It wasn’t anything with my eye or retina or anything,” said Leonard, who didn’t need stitches. “Just under my eye, I got a little cut.”

Pau Gasol had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who wasted a 16-point first-half lead and trailed by one when Leonard returned with 6:48 remaining after the Spurs needed only a couple minutes to patch him up. Patty Mills added 18 for San Antonio, who won at Miami for the fifth consecutive time.

“I thought we hung in there tough on the road,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “That was the best part of the game. We didn’t give in.”

Hassan Whiteside made his final seven shots and tied a career high with 27 points for Miami, also grabbing 15 rebounds. Goran Dragic scored 25 points and Justise Winslow added 18 for the Heat. Miami took the lead on a layup by Dragic right before Leonard returned, yet only held that lead for 18 seconds.

Leonard found Mills for a 3-pointer on his first possession back, then drove down a wide-open lane for a dunk on the next San Antonio trip. The Spurs didn’t trail again.

“They made some tough shots,” Dragic said. “But I feel like we defended well.”

When the Spurs last visited on Feb. 9, both teams used 11 players. Of those 22, only seven played Sunday — four for the Spurs, three for the Heat.

That game was the last Chris Bosh played for Miami. He was diagnosed with a blood clot in Toronto two nights later, pulled out of All-Star weekend and hasn’t been cleared to play since.

So the Heat remain in transition. But even with changes themselves, the Spurs remain the Spurs.

“You absolutely respect and enjoy how San Antonio just finds a way to stay ahead of the curve, continue to reinvent and be incredibly efficient,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Leonard made his first five free throws, then missed to end a season-opening streak of 33 makes. … LaMarcus Aldridge (rest) got the night off. … Danny Green (left quad strain) was on the trip, though isn’t expected to play for a couple more weeks.

Heat: Whiteside wore a sleeve to protect his stitched-up left elbow, cut in Friday’s loss to Charlotte. … Winslow missed his first five shots, airballing the last. He made his next seven. … Spoelstra said Josh Richardson (knee) is doing more rehab, but hasn’t fully practiced yet.

SHORT NIGHT, LONG WEEK

The Spurs played at home Saturday night, then landed in Miami at 2:30 a.m. — and faced the Heat at 6 p.m.

Good news for the Spurs: This trip is one of only two instances this season when they’ll deal with such a long flight on a back-to-back.

Bad news for the Spurs: The other is later this week. San Antonio plays Friday in Utah, then flies 1,100 miles to host the Clippers on Saturday.

BENCH FACTOR

San Antonio’s reserves outscored Miami’s bench 43-14. So far this season, the Spurs have a 174-81 edge in bench scoring.

UP NEXT

Spurs: San Antonio hosts Utah on Tuesday. The Spurs have won their last 10 at home against the Jazz.

Heat: Miami hosts Sacramento on Tuesday. The Heat have won their last 14 at home against the Kings.

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