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LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard find synergy against Heat

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Spurs hand Heat second straight loss (0:52)

Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge combine to score 51 points as the Spurs defeat the Heat 119-101. (0:52)

MIAMI -- San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge finally shed the standard “it’s-a-process” answer to the question of how he’s fitting in, and it’s clear he and budding star Kawhi Leonard are finding a level of synergy.

The duo made that painfully apparent to the Miami Heat on Tuesday night by helping to trounce the home team 119-101 behind 28 points from Aldridge and another 23 for Leonard.

“We just got better,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t make the same mistakes.”

Perhaps, but the chemistry bubbling between Aldridge and Leonard plays a major role.

Aldridge and Leonard have each scored more than 20 points in the same game in three of their past four outings.

“I think we’ve come a long way as far as understanding my game and understanding how to mesh it," Aldridge said. "I think we’ve got a good balance of how to use me, and I think I’ve understood how to play in the system better. I know it’s tough to beat us when we both play well. I think lately, we’ve both kind of found that balance and kind of learned how to play off each other, which is a process in itself. But I think we both have gotten better at taking turns out there and kind of getting going.”

The Aldridge-Leonard connection should bring optimism about the future as the Spurs await the return of defensive maven Tim Duncan. Duncan will likely come back to the lineup after the All-Star break, although Wednesday’s game at Orlando is also a possibility.

Point guard Tony Parker plays the catalyst in finding ways to involve both Aldridge and Leonard as early and often as possible.

Parker dished five assists to go with his seven points, while Danny Green contributed 15 points. Jonathon Simmons (10 points) and Boban Marjanovic (11 points) rounded out the Spurs' double-figure scorers.

Aldridge said Parker has “the toughest job of all of us”.

For a while, it appeared that Aldridge did. The power forward started his career in San Antonio slowly, averaging just 15.2 points over the first two months of the season. Aldridge increased the production in December to 15.9 points per game and upped it to a 16.7-point average in January. Aldridge has exploded in February, as he’s averaging 26.4 points.

Not coincidentally, the Spurs own a 5-0 mark this month as Aldridge produced 25 points or more in five of the last seven contests.

After a slow start against the Heat, Aldridge caught fire in the second quarter, pumping in 12 points to finish the first half with 16. Leonard inflicted most of his damage in the second half, when he scored 15 of his 23 on the night.

Leonard connected on 11 of 17 shots, pulled down nine boards and dished four assists. Aldridge made 10 of 16 attempts and served up four assists as San Antonio ran its record to 44-8, which ties for the franchise's best record after 52 games.

“Just having time with each other [has been the key],” Leonard said. “{Aldridge is] finally knowing where he can be aggressive, how he can take advantage of our offense. We’re probably just getting more comfortable with each other. [Parker] has a big role, not even him just giving us the ball. [It’s] him penetrating, drawing two guys to him and giving LaMarcus wide-open shots. It just gets an easy rotation for me if they close on him and I’ll get an open shot."

"So it all plays together," Leonard continued. "I think [Aldridge is] getting more comfortable, and everybody is getting more comfortable knowing his game and what spots he likes. It’s a feel and a question type of thing. You can’t have that knowledge until you start playing games and just see what he’s doing out there. Then you get a better understanding.”