San Antonio had not lost consecutive games with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the lineup since mid-December.
For the Spurs, this was the worst possible time for that streak to end: games 6 and 7 of the NBA Finals.
Tim Duncan played well much of the night, but missed three key shots late. Meanwhile, Tony Parker’s performance was awful by his standards, and Manu Ginobili made several fourth-quarter missteps.
Parker (10 points) missed all four of his shots in a scoreless second half.
Ginobili committed four fourth-quarter turnovers.
And Duncan missed two hooks and a tip in the final 2:36.
The Spurs got a huge and needed boost from Kawhi Leonard, who led everybody in rebounds (16), scored 19 points and delivered his usual jolt of energy.
Duncan had twice as many steals in the first half (four) than the previous six games combined. One of them led to the odd sight of a Duncan one-man fast break.
Duncan closed with 24 points and 12 rebounds but missed a hook shot with 2:36 left, another hook with 48 seconds left, and then couldn’t follow his own miss with 46 seconds to go. The normally stoic Duncan reacted angrily.
Most of Duncan’s damage was under the basket: five of his eight baskets were layups or dunks.
But Chris Bosh, despite foul trouble, played stout defense against Duncan to start the third quarter, forcing misses on two post moves, with one not even hitting the rim. Duncan hit two shots in the quarter but missed a driving scoop shot.
In the fourth quarter, Duncan got a layup off either a miss or pass from Parker (it was recorded as a miss, but might have been a pass), but then missed a turnaround over Bosh, and then missed the three late shots.
Parker, who shot 6 for 23 in Game 6, finished 3 for 12 in Game 7 and wasn’t even in the game on San Antonio’s critical possession, down four, with 27 seconds left.
Parker entered shooting 50 percent in the first half, just 36 percent in the second.
In Game 7, Parker took only two shot in the third quarter and missed both: a driving layup and pull up jumper. He missed a running jumper in the fourth — the one that looked like it might have been a pass — and then blew another driving layup, his final shot of the night.
Parker is usually very good at finishing in the basket area, but not this night.
He shot 2 for 8 within five feet, and was 0 for 5 on drives. According to ESPN, Parker had shot 50 percent on drives in the first six games.
Mario Chalmers and LeBron James did good work defending him.
“Parker doesn’t have the normal bounce to his step,” ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said.
Ginobili bounced back, initially, from his nine-point, eight-turnover clunker in Game 6 and played with force and energy, driving to the basket several times.
But he had issues in the fourth, missing two jumpers and committing an offensive foul, fumbling away a simple pass from Parker when he took his eye off the ball and throwing away a pass.
Ginobili did hit a driving layup in the fourth, then a three to pull the Spurs within 85-82.
But he committed a turnover with 23 seconds left, then missed a three a few seconds later.
After holding Danny Green to 1 for 7 shooting in Game 6, the Heat again defended him snugly, holding the Spurs guard to five points on 1 for 12 shooting, including an 0 for 8 start.
San Antonio made 20 of 22 free throws but ultimately couldn’t overcome 37.8 percent shooting.
And so the Spurs lost has many road closeout games this week as they had in the previous 11 years, when they were 14-2 in that situation.