We may be barking upon vintage Rudy Gay.

A Rudy Gay who used to slash through the lane for a quick layup. A Rudy Gay that will jab step you back just enough to throw up a quick mid-range shot. A Rudy Gay who could strip you and be down court in a flash for a two-handed dunk.

The Spurs haven’t really tried to get him the ball that much and have been using him solely for his defensive aura.

But last night, Gay not only found himself in the double digits in scoring but in double-digit 20s for the first time in his Spurs career. The veteran small forward dropped 22 points in the win over the Miami Heat, a team that was on his wish list during his free agency period this summer, on Wednesday night as he helped his new team stay undefeated and cruise to 4-0.

What Did the Spurs Do Differently?

The real difference in the game came down to a flexible lineup Greg Popovich showed late in the third quarter while they dominated the glass and made the Heat pay in the paint.

Popovich used the first half to figure out how he wanted to set his lineup and mid-way into the third quarter he pulled out his trick: full-on small-ball and threw out a lineup with Rudy Gay at center — and that was basically the ball game.

Gay, who was the tallest player on the court at some points, anchored a switching, rangy lineup consisting of Patty MillsManu Ginobili, rookie Brandon Paul, and Danny Green that went on a run that made life uncomfortable for the Heat on both ends. That lineup caused the Heat to blow a six point lead up to 15.

In a game in which neither Hassan Whiteside or Kawhi Leonard played, the Spurs beat the Heat both with big, bulky lineups, and small-ball, but it was when the bigs took a rest that the home team really caved in.

Allowing Gay to get more touches was exactly what the Spurs needed. He scored 15 points in a 32-13 run that San Antonio put together in the next nine minutes. The Spurs made seven consecutive shots to end the third, scored on 12 of their final 14 possessions of the quarter and led 93-73 when he connected on a smooth stepback jumper with 10 minutes left.

“I’m just playing basketball at this point,” Gay said in after the game. “It’s a lot of unknown with the lineups and we’ve got guys hurt. So right now we just have to play basketball.”

Up Next 

Spurs take on Jonathan Simmons and the Orlando Magic on Friday as they continue their four-game road trip.

 

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