The Miami Heat and LeBron James were as hot as possible before coming to Texas. Facing the San Antonio Spurs on March 6 didn't stand to be easy for the Heat, as James wasn't likely to score 61 points on their old NBA Finals rivals. Yet Miami certainly expected better than a 19 point performance from James, a 111-87 loss and a second straight defeat in the state of Texas.
The Heat had an eight-game winning streak and James had the game of his career right before facing the Houston Rockets and the Spurs this week. However, those two clubs are not the Charlotte Bobcats, as the Rockets and Spurs actually have hopes to face the Heat -- or anyone else -- in the NBA Finals.
Miami stumbled against actual contenders this week, although it has nothing on how San Antonio has struggled against the NBA's elite this season. Yet despite a 1-10 record against the top five teams in the NBA, the Spurs played like the champions they almost were against the Heat last summer.
San Antonio jumped to a 15-point lead after one quarter, then withstood Miami closing the gap in the third quarter and pulled away again in the fourth. The Spurs outscored the Heat by a combined 31 points in the first and fourth quarter, finishing this game far better than they did Games 6 and 7 at Miami last June.
Tim Duncan set the tone with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Tony Parker came back with 17 points after missing six games with lower body injuries. Chris Bosh led the Heat with 24 points in lue of James, who went six-for-18 and 0-for-3 beyond the arc, as taking his face mask off in the first quarter made no difference.
The week began with James jumping back in the MVP lead, and the Heat seemingly on the brink of seizing the Eastern Conference's top seed. Yet Miami and James both stalled against tougher competition -- although it ironically hurt Kevin Durant anyway, since his Oklahoma City Thunder are barely holding off the Spurs and Rockets.
While the Heat, Thunder, James and Durant have most of the buzz in the NBA, the Spurs are once again quietly surging and are just a half-game back of the West's top seed themselves. But Miami and James's losses are ringing louder than San Antonio's wins, for the moment.