Heat set for big showdown with Spurs

9:45 AM, Mar 31, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - Had the Miami Heat maintained the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, Sunday's matchup with the San Antonio Spurs would have more flair than it already has.

The two powers collide Sunday night in the Alamo City.

Miami's 27-game winning streak was halted in Wednesday's 101-97 loss at Chicago, but the Heat rebounded with a 108-89 victory Friday against the New Orleans Hornets. LeBron James scored a game-high 36 points on 13-of-20 shooting and made 7-of-10 3-pointers for the Heat, who shot a sizzling 60.9 percent from the field and sank 14-of-27 from downtown.

Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole scored 17 and 12 points, respectively, to help the Heat capture the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

"We talked about not having a letdown or an exhale, but rather to focus on competing and revealing our character in a game like this and trying to get better," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said.

James certainly maintained pace for another MVP honor and is averaging 30.7 ppg in his last seven. The ongoing debate involving James and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan came to the forefront again on Friday thanks to Hornets coach Monty Williams.

"(Michael) Jordan played against men. LeBron plays against young boys. That's the difference," Williams said after his team was manhandled by James.

The Heat, who are 25-12 on the road and 2-1 on a four-game trek, were without the services of guard Mario Chalmers (ankle) and he is questionable Sunday.

After visiting the Spurs, the Heat will put their 17-game home winning streak on the line Tuesday versus the New York Knicks.

San Antonio, Miami and Oklahoma City are in the running for the NBA's best record and the race could get steamy down the stretch.

The Spurs are two games ahead of the Thunder for the West's top seed and will wrap up a three-game homestand Sunday. They have won two in a row and 10 of their last 13 games, including Friday's 104-102 edging of the Los Angeles Clippers. Tim Duncan made a three-point play with 2.2 seconds left and finished with a season-high 34 points and 11 rebounds.

Tony Parker scored 24 points and dished out eight assists for San Antonio, which has won seven straight at home and is 32-4 in the Alamo City. The Spurs are 10-1 at home against teams from the East.

"Well, you just look at his (Duncan) line and just be amazed that he's doing what he's doing," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "But he's done the work to put himself in the position to have games like this and to have the season that he's had. You couldn't be more proud of the guy tonight on what he did out there. Obviously Tony Parker too, with his competitiveness in a very physical playoff-type game. It was a great win against a hell of a team."

The Spurs were 20-of-21 from the free throw line and lost guard Manu Ginobili in the first quarter with tightness in his right hamstring. Ginobili is expected to miss Sunday's game.

San Antonio will visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday and is set to engage in battle between two of the highest-scoring teams in the league. The Spurs are averaging 104.3 ppg, while Miami is posting 103.5 ppg.

In the first meeting between the teams on Nov. 29 in south Florida, Popovich opted to rest Duncan, Parker and Ginobili on national television for a hefty $250,000 fine, while Ray Allen hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 22.6 seconds left in a 105-100 Miami triumph.

The Heat have won the last three meetings with the Spurs, but are just 2-22 in the previous 24 trips to the Alamo City.

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