MIAMI (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 36 points, Tyler Herro added 27 off the bench and the Miami Heat overcame an early 16-point deficit to beat the San Antonio Spurs 133-129 on Saturday night.
Jimmy Butler scored 27 points in 30 minutes to help Miami improved the Eastern Conference's best record to 40-21. Butler didn't play in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Lowry had maybe the biggest shot of the night, a 3-pointer with 1:37 left to put Miami up by seven. San Antonio got within two on a 3-pointer by Keita Bates-Diop with nine seconds left, but Miami held on.
“I've got to do my part," Adebayo said.
The Heat win kept Spurs coach Gregg Popovich at 1,334 regular-season wins in his career, meaning he remained one victory behind Don Nelson — one of his former bosses — on the NBA's career list.
“Being in this position is awkward, surreal, unexpected, never planned and all of the above,” Popovich said. “It’s the best way to describe it.”
Devin Vassell had a career-high 22 points for the Spurs. Bates-Diop and Lonnie Walker IV also had 22 apiece for San Antonio, which got 19 points and 11 assists from Tre Jones.
Lowry finished with 13 points and 10 assists for Miami.
The Spurs were without their three leading scorers. All-Star Dejounte Murray was held out with a bruised left knee — “probably being overly cautious,” Popovich said — while Olympic gold medalist Keldon Johnson and starting center Jakob Poeltl were both sidelined by low back soreness.
Perhaps it lulled Miami into a seriously false sense of early security, because the Spurs got whatever they wanted for most of the first half.
The Spurs scored 157 points — the most ever by a San Antonio team in the Popovich era — in a double-overtime win at Washington on Friday, then kept the scoring going to get things started in Miami. San Antonio led 28-12 early and 40-28 when the first quarter was done, matching the most points the Heat had yielded in any quarter this season.
After 16-1/2 minutes, the Spurs were already up to 50 points.
And over the final 7-1/2 minutes of the half, San Antonio managed only eight points. Miami outscored the Spurs 20-8 to close the quarter, got its first lead of the game on a three-point play by Butler with 38.6 seconds left before intermission and went into the break up 61-58.
The Heat pushed the lead out to 68-58 after a quick start to the third, but the defense went missing again and Miami wound up allowing 39 points in the quarter — with the teams going back and forth on the lead.
Adebayo made a 21-footer at the buzzer to put Miami up 99-97 going into the final quarter. That was the start of him scoring 15 points in a span of 4:02, but the Heat still had to sweat it out all the way to the end.
Spurs: San Antonio’s first 18 points were all scored from inside the paint. ... Vassell had a four-point play with 8:43 left in the third, his corner 3 being accompanied by a foul from P.J. Tucker. He then hit another 3 on the next possession, giving him seven points in 26 seconds. ... Murray didn’t play in either game against Miami this season.
Heat: A monster week awaits Miami, with the team’s next four games coming up against fellow Eastern Conference contenders Chicago, Milwaukee, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. ... Miami committed seven fouls in the first half, then was whistled for 12 in the third quarter alone, plus a technical on head coach Erik Spoelstra. ... The Heat got down double-digits almost immediately for the second consecutive night; it was 10-0 at New York on Friday, 12-2 against the Spurs in this one.
Among those in the crowd: new Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, along with Floyd Mayweather, Antonio Brown and Alex Rodriguez.
A fan unfurled a Ukrainian flag inside the arena during the first half, drawing cheers. Later, the Heat displayed the same flag on the massive video screen that adorns the front of the building.