Chris Bosh was wide open, and he didn’t miss.
Rarely is the ball in Bosh’s hands on a final possession with a game in doubt, but the Heat’s center proved Sunday that he’s every bit up to the task of winning a game as Dwyane Wade or LeBron James when he drilled a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to shock the Spurs at AT&T Center.
Bosh’s dramatic three-pointer was the deciding field goal in an 88-86 victory on Sunday in a game that didn’t include Wade and James, who both sat out with minor injuries. The victory gave the Heat a rare season sweep of the Spurs, which could prove important if both teams finish the regular season with identical records and later meet in the Finals.
The Heat (58-15) would then hold the tiebreaker for home-court advantage.
Miami only has swept the Spurs (55-18) during the regular season three times, and the Heat is now 3-22 all time in San Antonio.
It was Ray Allen who made the game winner against the Spurs early this season, but this time Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers, deferred to Bosh, the team’s versatile big man who had already made two three-pointers in the game.
“I went up and I felt my guy come up on me and, hey, there was someone open and I found him,” Allen said.
Bosh, who peeled off a screen and found himself wide open, knocked down the shot from the top of the key with the poise of a full-time sharpshooter. The Spurs called timeout with 1.1 seconds left and Bosh celebrated his make with one of his patented screams as he danced down the court.
“I saw them put two [defenders] to the ball and [Allen] didn’t hesitate to hit me, and I didn’t hesitate to shoot it,” Bosh said.
Bosh finished with 23 points, going 9 of 15 from the field and 3 of 5 from three-point range. He also had nine rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots. The opportunity at the end of the game is one he said he’s going to savor.
“Just to have an impact late on a game, I don’t that many opportunities, so I have to be very efficient,” Bosh said. “I’m really proud of our team for holding it down and doing a great job.
“Without the team, without Ray passing it, without [Udonis Haslem] getting that great stop on [Tim] Duncan and getting a rebound, we wouldn’t have had a shot.”
Haslem only played 32 seconds in the fourth quarter, substituting in to defend Duncan on the Spurs’ penultimate possession of the game. Duncan missed a nine-footer with 11.9 seconds left that would have given San Antonio a three-point lead.
After Bosh’s three-pointer and a timeout by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to draw up the final play, Spurs guard Tony Parker missed badly on a potential game-winner from 13 feet at the buzzer. Duncan finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Spurs and Parker had 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
Before tipoff, the game lost some of its luster when Heat coach Erik Spoelstra announced that James, Wade and Mario Chalmers would miss the contest of top teams because of lingering injuries. Norris Cole started in place of Chalmers, and Mike Miller got the call for Wade. Rashard Lewis was inserted into the starting lineup for LeBron James. Miller, Lewis and Cole combined for 32 points.
Allen had 14 points off the bench, going 6 of 12 from the field and 2 of 5 from three-point range. Battier had six points on two three-pointers and, afterward, delivered the one-liner of the night to sum up the Heat’s undermanned victory.
“We have gamers in this room,” Battier said. “You could hear the collective groan of the arena. ‘Oh, we got to watch these clowns for 48 minutes.’ But you know what, these clowns have a lot of fight in them … fighting clowns.”
Down three points with a minute left, Battier missed a three-point attempt from the corner but gathered a rebound on the other end after a miss by Parker to keep the Heat’s chances alive. Cole then converted two frees after a controversial foul by Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard; Cole appeared to trip over his own feet but Leonard was whistled on the play. The free throws cut the Spurs’ lead to 86-85 with 32.1 seconds left.
Spoelstra subbed in Haslem for Lewis after a timeout and was rewarded for the move when Haslem forced Duncan to miss and then pulled down the rebound that led to Bosh’s three-pointer. A 14-foot fadeaway by Duncan with 1:21 left gave the Spurs an 86-83 lead.
James and Wade watched the game from inside the visiting locker room but immediately afterward met their teammates in a hallway to join the celebration.
“They were tackling everyone on the way to the locker room … they didn’t get hurt,” Spoelstra said.