Page last updated on Sun Dec 21 11:31:58 EST 2014
11/30/2012 12:27 AM EST
Allen, Heat top short-handed Spurs 105-100

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) -- The NBA plans to make San Antonio pay for resting
four starters.

The Miami Heat almost could not.

Ray Allen's 3-pointer with 22.6 seconds left gave Miami the
lead, LeBron James finished with 23 points and the Heat rallied
late to beat the Spurs 105-100 on Thursday night - digging deep
despite San Antonio's decision to have four top players resting
at home in a move that bothered NBA Commissioner David Stern.

The Spurs played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili
and Danny Green, all sent back to San Antonio by coach Gregg
Popovich, who said the move was in his team's best interest.
Stern disagreed, calling the decision "unacceptable,"
apologizing to fans and saying that sanctions against the Spurs
will be forthcoming.

After the game, Popovich said he was unaware of Stern's
statement and declined comment about what it might mean.

"Oh, it would have been great if we won," Spurs forward Matt
Bonner said after hearing about Stern's statement. "It goes back
to what I was saying, I'm sure everybody else was saying before
the game. We have faith in everybody on our roster. We think we
have one of the deepest teams in the league."

The Heat weren't disagreeing afterward.

"We survived," Chris Bosh said. "And we won. They have a bunch
of talented guys over there. I know that nobody's going to
really give them credit, but they are a tough bunch."

How tough? Try this - the Spurs led by seven with 4:48 left, and
the margin was still 98-93 when Gary Neal made a 3-pointer with
2:14 remaining.

From there, Miami closed on a 12-2 run.

But all anyone will likely remember from this one is Popovich's
decision - and whatever Stern does as a result.

"I apologize to all NBA fans," Stern said. "This was an
unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial
sanctions will be forthcoming."

Allen scored 20 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and Chris Bosh
finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, now 7-0 at

Neal had 20 points for the Spurs. Tiago Splitter scored 18
points, Nando De Colo added 15, Boris Diaw scored 12 and Bonner
had 10 for San Antonio, which finished a
six-games-in-nine-nights road trip with a 5-1 record. Bonner
also had 10 rebounds, one more than he had grabbed all season
entering the game.

"Pop is the coach of the San Antonio Spurs," Neal said. "He did
what's best for us."

Stern's statement was released roughly the same time as tip-off
in Miami for the nationally televised game.

The Spurs' five starters came into the game averaging a combined
23.6 points, or 1.6 points less than James averaged entering
Thursday night.

And when the Heat ran out to a 16-6 lead, it seemed as though a
blowout was in the offing. After all, even the oddsmakers in Las
Vegas expected it to be that way - the Heat were favored by six
points in most sports books before the news broke that the
Spurs' regulars were resting, after which the line swelled to

Apparently, no one told the Spurs that the second-string was
supposed to play second-fiddle.

San Antonio closed the first quarter on a 21-6 run, taking a
27-22 lead after the period, and simply did not go away. The
Spurs led by as many as seven at one point, and after James
Anderson made a pair of free throws with 0.6 seconds left in the
third, San Antonio held a 76-73 lead heading into the final 12

But once again, James-to-Allen proved magical for Miami.

With the Heat down by one, James nearly lost the ball in the
lane, collected himself and kicked it out to Allen, who
connected from the left wing to put Miami ahead to stay. James
also set up Allen for a final-moment four-point play to lift
Miami over Denver earlier this season, along with another late
3-pointer that helped the Heat edge Cleveland last weekend.

"Every time a guy turns his head I have to find the open spot so
LeBron can see me," Allen said. "Anything can happen out there.
We put ourselves in such a tough situation, but we kept plugging

Thing is, no one ever thought it would come down to that.

Before the game, Popovich said he decided to sit his core when
he saw how challenging this particular part of the schedule was
for his team.

"Everybody has to make decisions about their schedule, about
players playing and back-to-backs and trips and that sort of
thing," Popovich said before the game. "In our case, this month
we've had 11 away games, after tonight. We've had an eight-day
trip and a 10-day trip, and we're ending it with four (games) in
five nights here. I think it'd be unwise to be playing our guys
in that kind of a situation, given their history."

It's not unlike other moves Popovich has made before; in fact,
not only did he give Duncan, Parker and Ginobili time off
together toward the end of last season, which was condensed by a
lockout, he actually flew home to San Antonio with them and took
a two-game, pre-playoff sabbatical.

Popovich said he's gotten letters in the past from fans upset
about similar moves, adding that he understands their point and
asking that they understand his: He thinks rest is necessary for
a roster like San Antonio's. And this decision, Popovich said,
wasn't about the fact that the Spurs were facing Miami - it was
more about a home matchup with surging Memphis on Saturday.

"Perhaps it'll give us an opportunity to stay on the court with
Memphis on Saturday night," Popovich said. "Historically, when
you're on a long road trip, that first game when you come home
is really tough. And Memphis is one of the best teams in the
league. They're of much more concern to us than playing four
games in five nights. It's pretty logical."

Given Stern's statement, it's also logical to think that the
Spurs could know their penalty by Saturday as well.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Popovich's move didn't affect
Miami's preparation.

"Each organization has a big-picture view of what they are
trying to get accomplished and I think the league respects
that," Spoelstra said.

In this case, maybe not.

NOTES: Miami last played on Saturday, at home; San Antonio had
played on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, all on the road. ... A
moment of silence was held before the game for Sasha McHale, the
daughter of Houston coach Kevin McHale. Sasha McHale died
Saturday at age 23. ... It was the third straight home game in
which Miami trailed in the fourth quarter. ... The
back-and-forth game ended a run of blowouts in the Heat-Spurs
series. The previous five meetings were decided by an average of
24.8 points, including three 30-point games - two of those Spurs
wins in San Antonio, the other a Heat win in Miami.

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