Kendrick Nunn was the last Miami player off the court at halftime, required to hang out for an extra minute or two in order to pick up his second Eastern Conference rookie of the month trophy.
“Hopefully, I get some more,” Nunn said.
He’s well on his way.
Nunn scored 33 points on 13-for-18 shooting, Goran Dragic added 17 points and the Heat held on to beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-100 Wednesday night and move back into the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.
“He was able to get into a great rhythm,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Nunn, who was 8 for 8 in the first half.
Bam Adebayo — cut from USA Basketball’s national team by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich over the summer — had 14 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Heat. Miami improved to 18-1 at home, one win shy of matching last season’s home win total.
“Now that you see him during the season, I’ve shaken my head several times,” Popovich said of Adebayo, a serious All-Star contender this season. “That’s not the guy that we saw during the tryout. Maybe that was my fault. Maybe I should have done it differently so his skills could come out.”
Jimmy Butler scored 12 and Duncan Robinson added 11 for Miami.
DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points on 12-of-14 shooting for San Antonio, while Patty Mills added 21 for the Spurs. San Antonio had won three of its last four games, all those wins coming against top Eastern Conference teams Milwaukee, Boston and Toronto. But the Spurs missed 11 of their first 12 shots to start the fourth quarter and lost the lead for good during that drought.
“We’re going to be fine,” DeRozan said. “It (stinks) right now. It’s right there. There’s a lot of basketball to be played. We’re trending in the right direction. We’re playing well against great teams, have beaten some great teams and that does a lot for our confidence and knowing how much time is left.”
The Spurs were 10 for 33 from 3-point range, while Miami was 17 for 40.
“It’s tough. It’s hard to win when we shoot that bad from the 3,” Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge said.
Butler’s 3-pointer with 5:24 left capped what was a 20-5 run going back to the third quarter — and was maybe a most unlikely salvo. Butler hadn’t made a 3 since Dec. 20, going 0 for 7 in his last nine games before Wednesday.
Consecutive baskets by Nunn pushed the lead to 94-83 with 3:42 left, but the Spurs came right back. Mills made a 3-pointer, DeRozan followed with a three-point play on the next possession and just like that the Heat lead was down to five with 3:04 remaining.
Mills had a good look at a 3 that would have put San Antonio within three with 1:16 left, but Butler blocked it and Miami held on from there.
Spurs: This is the first season since 1996-97 that San Antonio will have a losing record at the midway mark. The Spurs were 11-30 halfway through that season, which not coincidentally was also the last one in which they missed the playoffs. … Excluding a preseason game between the clubs this past fall, San Antonio assistant Tim Duncan was part of a Spurs at Heat game for the first time since March 31, 2015.
Heat: Tyler Herro (bruised knee) couldn’t play, though the Heat expect him back shortly. … This was Miami’s only home game in a 15-day span, sandwiched around last week’s three-game road trip and a two-game swing that starts Friday. After that, the Heat have a five-game, nine-day homestand. … Florida Panthers career scoring leader Jonathan Huberdeau and country star Luke Combs were in the crowd.
The Heat converted Chris Silva’s two-way contract to a standard one — guaranteed for next season with a team option for 2021-22. Silva becomes the third player on this Heat roster to start as a two-way signee, the others being Robinson and Derrick Jones Jr.
There has long been respect between the Heat and Spurs, born in part from their NBA Finals matchups in 2013 and 2014. Popovich has often praised Spoelstra, and did so again Wednesday. “He has high standards and he makes people accountable. … That’s something that’s in the water here,” Popovich said. Popovich exchanged greetings with Spoelstra and Heat assistant Dan Craig, a former USA Basketball assistant for Popovich, after the game.
Spurs: Host Atlanta on Friday.
Heat: Visit Oklahoma City on Friday.
Nunn Scores 33, Heat 18-1 at Home after Edging Spurs 106-100