MIAMI — The NBA plans to make San Antonio pay for resting four stars.
The Miami Heat almost could not.
Ray Allen’s 3-pointer with 22.6 seconds left gave the Heat the lead, LeBron James finished with 23 points and the Heat rallied late to beat the Spurs 105-100 on Thursday night — needing to dig deep despite San Antonio’s decision to have four standouts resting at home in a move that irked NBA Commissioner David Stern.
Allen scored 20 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 and Chris Bosh finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds for Miami, now 7-0 at home.
Gary Neal had 20 points for the Spurs, who played without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green. The Spurs’ top foursome was sent back to San Antonio by coach Gregg Popovich, who said the move was in his team’s best interest. Stern wasn’t happy about it, calling the move “unacceptable" and saying that sanctions against the Spurs will be forthcoming.
Tiago Splitter scored 18 points, Nando De Colo added 15, Boris Diaw scored 12 and Matt Bonner had a 10-point, 10-rebound night for San Antonio, which finished a six-games-in-nine-nights road trip with a 5-1 record.
The Spurs led by seven with about 5 minutes left and were up 98-93 after Neal made a 3-pointer with 2:14 remaining.
The Heat finished on a 12-2 run, needing yet another late-game rally.
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."
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.
In another Thursday game:
OAKLAND, Calif. — Andre Iguodala’s 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded was waived off, and Golden State held on for a wild win over Denver after four replay reviews over the final 3.4 seconds. Iguodala received a cross-court inbounds pass and connected from the left wing with a hand in his face, and Denver players celebrated by running off the court toward their locker room. But the Warriors stayed put and waited on yet another review by officials at the scorer’s table — then began their own cheers at raucous Oracle Arena when officials ruled the shot came just an instant after time expired.