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 closer to securing home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.
Bosh hit the winning 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining and scored 23 points, and the Heat beat San Antonio 88-86 on Sunday with the injured James, Wade and Mario Chalmers watching from the locker room.
James (right hamstring) and Wade (right ankle) were surprise scratches. Chalmers did not play Friday at New Orleans and was listed as day-to-day with a sprained right ankle.
“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.”
Ray Allen added 14 points, Norris Cole had 13 and Mike Miller 12 for Miami (58-15), which swept the season series with San Antonio (55-18).
By earning the head-to-head tiebreaker with San Antonio, the Heat have a four-game cushion with nine remaining for the league’s best record.
Miami beat San Antonio 105-100 on Nov. 29 when the Spurs opted to rest Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green. All but Ginobili (right hamstring) played Sunday.
Duncan had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who had a seven-game home winning streak snapped. Green and Parker added 12 points apiece and Stephen Jackson had 11.
Bosh finished 3-for-5 on 3s, including the final shot from straightaway in the closing seconds. He let out a loud yell after making the shot and celebrated with teammates when Parker’s jumper bounced off the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
“He’s a heck of a player, No. 1, but he’s also a hell of a shooter,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He knocked down a big shot. Timmy contested it, and he hit a big shot to win the game. Give him credit.”
The game was similar to their first meeting this season, when the Spurs’ reserves nearly toppled the Heat. This time the reserves prevailed, however.
“There’s no question, it’s a gratifying win,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “To come in and play against a great team, an elite team. We talked about coming in with Miami Heat pride. 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.”
James strained his right hamstring in the first half of the 108-89 victory against the Hornets on Friday. He continued to play despite the injury, however, scoring 36 points in 32 minutes before sitting out late in the blowout victory.
Wade hurt his right ankle in Miami’s 101-97 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, which snapped the Heat’s 27-game winning streak. He had 17 points and nine assists in 33 minutes Friday.
KNICKS WIN EIGHTH STRAIGHT — At New York, Carmelo Anthony had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and the Knicks extended their winning streak to eight with a 108-89 victory over Boston. New York won the season series for the first time since 2003-04 and regained a tie with Indiana for the No. 2 seed in the East, which currently would mean a first-round playoff series with the Celtics.
BULLS RALLY PAST PISTONS — At Chicago, Luol Deng scored 28 points, and the Bulls came back from a 13-point second-half deficit to beat Detroit 95-94, extending their winning streak against the Pistons to 18. Detroit hasn’t beaten Chicago since Dec. 23, 2008.