SAN ANTONIO -- The first thing the Miami Heat will need when it comes to exploring the possibilities of Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson as their starting power rotation will be a better whistle.
Because with Johnson forced to the bench just 22 seconds into the second half Wednesday night's 117-105 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center, Erik Spoelstra latest Heat lineup combination essentially was put on hold.
It was all good at the outset, with Johnson scoring nine points in the opening period and the Heat building an early eight-point lead.
But then came the tweet sound of lack of lineup success, the Spurs eventually pressing their pedigree in the fourth quarter, leading to the Heat's fourth loss in five games, despite a season-high 25 points from Tyler Johnson, 22 from Dion Waiters and 19 from Josh Richardson.
The Spurs won for the sixth time in seven games, with scoring balance throughout their rotation, enough to offset the Heat's 18-of-34 3-point shooting.
Spoelstra shuffled his lineup against the Spurs' length, opening with Kelly Olynyk at center and James Johnson at power forward, rounded out by previous starters Goran Dragic, Waiters and Richardson.
The degree of permanency with the grouping will be limited to the length of the absence of center Hassan Whiteside, who missed his fourth consecutive game with the latest bone bruise on his left knee, not traveling on this three-game trip that continues Saturday in Mexico City against the Brooklyn Nets and concludes Monday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Spurs continued to play with a makeshift lineup of their own, with All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard yet to make his season debut, due to a quadriceps injury. That had Rudy Gay opening at small forward for San Antonio in place of previous replacement starter
Kyle Anderson, who now is out with a knee injury.
In addition, Spurs reserve guard Manu Ginobili briefly went to the locker room in the first quarter due to a sore knee.