National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern vowed to impose “substantial sanctions” on the San Antonio Spurs, who lost at Miami last night after sending four top players home before the game.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent 36-year-old Tim Duncan, 30- year-old Tony Parker and 35-year-old Manu Ginobili, all former All-Stars, and 25-year-old Danny Green back to San Antonio. The Heat won 105-100.
All normally are starters for the Spurs (13-4). Instead, San Antonio’s starting lineup consisted of Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, Patrick Mills and Nando de Colo.
“I apologize to all NBA fans,” Stern said in an e-mailed statement. “This was an unacceptable decision by the San Antonio Spurs and substantial sanctions will be forthcoming.”
The Spurs, who already were missing injured players Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard, were playing their fourth road game in five nights. Miami has the best record in the Eastern Conference at 11-3.
Including Jackson and Leonard, the six missing players have averaged a combined 76.2 points a game this season.
Popovich said he decided to rest players for the game when the league schedule came out in July and showed the Spurs, who had nine players in uniform last night, would be completing a six-game road trip in Miami.
San Antonio tomorrow hosts the Memphis Grizzlies, who have an NBA-best record of 11-2 and are in the Western Conference’s Southwest Division with the Spurs.
“It’s the best thing for our team,” Popovich told reporters before the Miami game. “Everybody has to make decisions about their schedule. We’ve done this before in hopes we’re making a wiser decision and not a macho decision.”
Even without the four regular starters, the Spurs led 98-93 with two minutes, 14 seconds left in the game before the Heat took control by scoring eight straight points. Miami finished the game with a 12-2 run.
Spurs owner Peter Holt recently was elected chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors.
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