Basketball / Sports

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers makes a basket over San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan during the first quarter in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center in San Antonio on Sunday, June 8, 2014. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/MCT)

Spurs turn focus toward ball-movement issues

MIAMI -- Before the NBA Finals began, the San Antonio Spurs treated the media to a drill that showcased their nearly perfect ball movement.

It provided a look at when Spurs basketball is at its best.

As good as the ball movement appeared in that practice, it was equally as bad in Sunday's loss to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the series. In the second half, the Spurs were hardly the team known for carving opponents with precision passing.

"I think it's a 48-minute game, and we didn't move it enough of those minutes, basically," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's how we have to score. We can't put it in somebody's hands and have them create everything for us. It's got to be a group effort and we didn't do that."

Somehow, the Spurs were relying more on individual play instead of moving the ball. They gave credit to the Heat's defense, but also put a lot of it on themselves. Popovich said it lessens the margin of error when there is no offensive rhythm.

"That puts a lot of pressure on everything else," he said. "It means we're going to have to be perfect on defense, we can't miss four free throws in a row, those sorts of things. You move it (the ball) or you die."

The Spurs are unsure of what exactly happened, especially in the second half. They led 30-19 at one point in the second quarter before things unraveled. After the hot start, they shot just 43 percent from the field. They attributed it mostly to poor shot-selection.

"We stopped the ball," guard Manu Ginobili said. "Against a team like them, we are not going to score much if we do stop the ball."

Duncan added, "I honestly don't know what happened in that stretch, but turnovers were probably a factor there. And again, the ball kind of started sticking for a stretch there."

The Spurs thought increasing the pace would lead to better looks in the second half. They played their type of basketball in spurts, but were unable to sustain it for long periods.

"There are moments where we forget what got us to where we are now," Ginobili said. "It happened also in Game 1 ... We know how it works. We are playing a great team with great players. They've been here many times so we've got to be close to perfect to win and today we were far from it."

The Spurs were especially stagnant with the game on the line. After Chris Bosh's 3-pointer put the Heat ahead 95-93, there was still opportunity for the Spurs to seize control of the series. Ginobili threw an errant pass intended for Duncan on the following possession.

Later, he said he was poked in the eye before making the pass. Still, he had another chance for redemption but missed a jumpshot from the top of the key with the shot-clock winding down.

Again, the play lacked ball movement.

"Maybe a little bit of fatigue or maybe a little bit of confusion or them scrambling more," guard Danny Green said. "It could be a number of things, but we didn't look like ourselves out there."

The attention now turns to the Spurs at least winning one game as the series shifts to Miami Tuesday for Game 3 at AmericanAirlines Arena. Going back to San Antonio down 3-1 isn't an option, even if the Spurs would have two of the remaining three games at home.

"It doesn't matter what we've been through before, we're here now again and we lost a game," Duncan said. "We're not going to hang our heads. We're going to regroup here and come out the next one. We know we can play better. We know we haven't played our greatest game, even in the first one we did win. So we just have to play a better part of those 48 minutes the way we want to play it."

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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