SAN ANTONIO -- There was Manu Ginobili, hitting yet another 3-pointer for the San Antonio Spurs and scoring 25 points. And there were the Miami Heat, who looked as if, even if they'd had Dwyane Wade back, it might not have been enough.
"Ginobili is a handful," Heat coach Pat Riley said Wednesday night after his team lost 88-78 and fell to 0-4 this season. "He's unpredictable. It's hard to defend him."
But, even adding Tony Parker's 23 points to the mix, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn't ready to claim too much credit.
"Of course you don't take huge satisfaction out of the win with Dwyane Wade not there," Popovich said. "But we're going to take the win; we worked hard for it. But we realize they were pretty undermanned."
Riley nor the team would hide behind the Wade excuse, but they did acknowledge what the recovering star creates for the Heat. Riley said Wade has been participating in full-contact drills over the past two or three days.
"I think that's where (the Spurs), a lot of times they scored in the last six or seven seconds of the shot clock with" Parker and Ginobili, Riley said. "Right now, when we break down, we don't have anybody that's doing that. He happens to be sitting on the bench. That's what we used to do."
Ginobili hit four of the Spurs' seven 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the third quarter, after San Antonio led by only one at halftime.
"In the first half we didn't have it, that was pretty obvious," Ginobili said. "Then in the third quarter we tried to change the pace a little bit -- play more, play faster, better, more passes -- and I think it worked. We changed the attitude totally in the third quarter."
The Spurs bounced back from their first loss of the season Tuesday night in Houston.
Shaquille O'Neal led the Heat with 17 points. Ricky Davis had 14 and Udonis Haslem scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds. And while the Heat anxiously await Wade's return, they're still doing their best without him.
"We all have to come together as a team without D-Wade right now. We have to find ourselves," Smush Parker said. "And when he comes back, it's going to be a tremendous help to us."
For most of the second half, the game between the most recent two NBA champions wasn't much of a matchup. The Spurs were up by as many as 17.
"At times we played pretty good. But games like this, we've just got to go back to the lab and stay positive," O'Neal said. "Right now, it's character time."
After O'Neal caught an alley-oop pass from Jason Williams for a dunk to open the third quarter, the Spurs went on a 10-2 run spearheaded by Ginobili, who hit a free throw after exchanging words with Williams after the Spurs guard was fouled, then added a basket and a 3-pointer.
"The edge on our defense that we had in the first half -- that we felt was good enough to win -- was flat, soft," Riley said.
The Spurs went ahead for good, 41-40, off a jumper from Francisco Oberto with 11:28 left in the third. Ginobili's third 3 of the night boosted the lead to 56-44 with 6:03 left. His fourth 3, only 47 seconds later, made it 59-46.
After trailing by as many as 15, the Heat inched their way back within five. Davis scored seven points in the last 2:35 to lead a 10-2 Heat run to close the quarter.
The Spurs were up 65-58 heading into the final period. And the Spurs opened the fourth with a 10-2 run that put them back up by 15 points.
The teams traded leads in the first half, with the Spurs up 23-21 after one and 39-38 at the break.
The Heat had a hard time containing Parker, who scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half, including a 3-pointer in the first quarter. It's a shot Parker, who is usually seen cutting through the lane on his way to the basket, has been testing out a bit more.
Haslem and Williams were each 4-for-5 in the first half, for eight points apiece.
|San Antonio's Tony Parker drives around Miami's Udonis Haslem for two of his 23 points. (Getty Images)|
|San Antonio (4-1) «||23||16||26||23||88|
|MIA:S. O'Neal 17 Pts
MIA:U. Haslem 9 Reb
MIA:J. Williams 7 Ast
|SA:M. Ginobili 25 Pts
SA:F. Elson 14 Reb
SA:T. Parker 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|R. Davis, SG||37||6-13||0-0||5||2||1||14|
|U. Haslem, PF||33||5-8||0-0||9||0||1||10|
|J. Williams, PG||32||4-7||1-2||1||7||5||9|
|S. O'Neal, C||31||6-13||5-10||3||1||2||17|
|D. Wright, SF||21||2-5||5-7||2||2||1||9|
|P. Hardaway, SG||29||3-6||0-0||4||5||2||8|
|S. Parker, PG||27||2-9||0-0||2||3||2||4|
|A. Mourning, C||15||1-4||1-2||4||0||2||3|
|M. Blount, C||14||2-6||0-0||3||0||2||4|
|D. Wade, SG||Did Not Play|
|E. Barron, C||Did Not Play|
|A. Johnson, SF||Did Not Play|
|C. Quinn, PG||Did Not Play|
|D. Cook, SG||Did Not Play|
|J. Anthony, C||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|T. Parker, PG||41||10-17||2-4||1||8||0||23|
|B. Bowen, SF||33||0-3||0-0||4||1||1||0|
|T. Duncan, PF||31||4-9||4-4||8||3||2||12|
|M. Finley, SG||24||2-8||0-2||4||1||1||4|
|F. Oberto, C||9||1-1||0-0||1||0||4||2|
|F. Elson, C||36||6-11||0-1||14||1||2||12|
|M. Ginobili, SG||35||8-12||5-8||7||7||3||25|
|M. Bonner, PF||20||2-8||0-0||3||0||3||5|
|B. Barry, SG||11||1-2||0-0||0||0||0||3|
|R. Horry, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Vaughn, PG||Did Not Play|
|I. Udoka, SF||Did Not Play|
|I. Mahinmi, C||Did Not Play|
|D. Washington, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|