The defending champion San Antonio Spurs returned to Miami for the first time since last year’s NBA Finals and delivered a 95-81 defeat to the struggling Heat.
Kawhi Leonard scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds while French guard Tony Parker added 16 points and a game-high five assists and Tim Duncan contributed 12 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
It was the 14th win in 17 games for the Spurs and their fourth in a row, boosting San Antonio to 48-26 on the season, one loss behind Portland for fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Heat slid to 34-40, seventh in the Eastern Conference, one win ahead of Brooklyn and only one game ahead of ninth-place Boston.
San Antonio and Miami met in the past two NBA Finals, the Heat winning in seven games in 2013 before falling to the Spurs in five last June.
While Miami has stumbled since the departure of LeBron James to Cleveland, the Spurs have maintained their solid base in hopes of contending for a title repeat, with Leonard becoming a crucial playmaker.
“Guys are starting to double team me and give me more attention in the post but I’ve learned a lot,” Leonard said.
“It’s great confidence for me. The guys are starting to trust me. I’ve just got to find my teammates open shots. I can’t be selfish or stubborn out there.”
Goran Dragic led Miami with 19 points while Dwyane Wade added 15.