SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (Reuters) - A sudden scoring slump by hot favourites Miami Heat has the defending National Basketball Association (NBA) champions scrambling to rediscover their form in time to turn the NBA Finals back in their favour.
The Heat, who averaged nearly 103 points per game during the 82-game regular season, endured their lowest offensive output of the entire 2012/2013 campaign in Tuesday's lifeless 77-113 loss to the host San Antonio Spurs.
Following the defeat, the Heat now trail the best-of-seven Finals 1-2, with the next two games being played in San Antonio on Thursday and Sunday.
"We got our butt kicked pretty good," Dwyane Wade, who had a team-high 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, said. "This was a terrible performance by the Miami Heat. Our worst one yet. And we have to correct it."
The Heat shot a lousy 40.8 per cent from the field and the only consistent player on the court was Mike Miller, a 12-year veteran guard, who came off the bench to score 15 points on five-of-five shooting from beyond the arc.
LeBron James, who entered the game averaging a team-high 25.2 points per game, was held to four points in the first half on two-of-eight shooting.
The four-time most valuable player (MVP) found his rhythm for a brief period late in the third quarter but still finished with 15 points, his lowest output of the post-season.
Making matters worse was a ferocious Spurs offence that put the game out of reach with an impressive 33-5 run in the second half that whipped the home crowd into a frenzy.
"We got what we deserved," Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. "They got into an incredible rhythm, even in the first quarter. Every shot they wanted to get, they got. We did not disrupt them. And then that's the flow. And it just went from there. We never got to our game."
To avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination, Miami will have to find a way to win on the road against a San Antonio team that has one loss in seven play-off games at the AT&T Center this year.
"Every game from this point on is a must-win," Wade said."We have to win it."