Chris Bosh scored 23 points, including the winning three-point basket with 1.9 seconds left, and the Miami Heat beat host San Antonio 88-86 despite not having LeBron James (strained hamstring), Dwyane Wade (injured ankle) and Mario Chalmers (sprained ankle) available.
SAN ANTONIO — Often the forgotten member of Miami’s “Big Three,” Chris Bosh stepped up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sitting out to get the Heat a victory in a matchup of the league’s best teams.
Bosh scored 23 points, including the winning three-point basket with 1.9 seconds left, and the Heat beat San Antonio 88-86 Sunday night with James (strained hamstring), Wade (injured ankle) and Mario Chalmers (sprained ankle) watching from the locker room as they sat out.
“We are the defending champs, no matter who we put out there,” Bosh said. “We are still the Miami Heat. We believe in ourselves. Each one of these guys is a professional.
“We played bigger roles in other cities but we came together and accepted lesser roles to win a championship here. We can still tap into that.”
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Ex-Sonic Ray Allen added 14 points for Miami (58-15), which swept the season series with San Antonio (55-18). By earning the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Spurs, the Heat has a four-game cushion with nine remaining for the league’s best record.
Tim Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who had a seven-game home winning streak snapped.
Miami beat San Antonio 105-100 on Nov. 29 when the Spurs opted to rest Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green. All but Ginobili (strained right hamstring) played Sunday.
The Spurs did not give the NBA or Miami notice of the players’ absences in November, which led the league to fine San Antonio $250,000.
Popovich reacted in mock horror when told James, Wade and Chalmers were out.
“Are you kidding me?” Popovich said. “Who would think of something like that? That’s below the belt. There’s no place for that.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked if San Antonio’s decision to not use its high-profile players in Miami had an impact on his decision to rest James, Wade and Chalmers.
“I could see how you guys can draw that conclusion, but no,” Spoelstra told media before the game.
Duncan’s jumper gave San Antonio an 86-83 lead with 1:21 left. Norris Cole made two free throws for the Heat with 32.1 seconds left, setting up Bosh’s heroics.
Miami improved its record in San Antonio to 3-22.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in uniform or not, all of our guys have proven that it’s the pride of the name on the jersey, on the front of the jersey,” Spoelstra said.
• Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and 10 rebounds to lead host New York past Boston 108-89. The Knicks have won eight in a row.
Ex-Sonic Jeff Green led the Celtics with 27 points.
• Luol Deng scored 28 points for Chicago in a 95-94 victory over visiting Detroit. The Bulls have defeated the Pistons 18 times in a row.
Rodney Stuckey, a former standout at Eastern Washington and Kentwood High in Covington, led Detroit with 25 points.
Deng’s layup with 1:05 left gave the Bulls a 94-91 lead. Stuckey made a last-second three-pointer.
• Greivis Vasquez scored 25 points to lead host New Orleans past Cleveland 112-92.
• Bradley Beal, who missed the previous five games because of a sprained ankle, scored 24 points to help Washington beat visiting Toronto 109-92.
The Wizards have won their last seven home games.