From Comcast SportsNetMIAMI (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 home.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 13.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 minutes.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 away."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.
The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.
Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento.
Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.
Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove
SACRAMENTO -- The transactions came fast and furious over the last 48 hours for the Sacramento Kings and with the trade deadline still two days away, they might not be done. Gone are DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi and Matt Barnes. Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway have joined the fray in a huge roster shakeup.
Dave Joerger learned last season in Memphis that your roster is never set in stone and he will have his hands full trying to put together a makeshift lineup when games resume Thursday night.
Sacramento tried to move up in the 2016 NBA Draft to get their hands on the flashy shooting guard out of Oklahoma. Hield will eventually move into the starting lineup, with Ben McLemore either shifting to the three or coming off the bench with the second unit.
The 23-year-old wing has plenty of upside and he’s under team control for the next four seasons. After averaging 25 points per game during his senior year with the Sooners, Hield has struggled a bit with the transition to the pro game.
Through 57 games, including 37 starts, the rookie is posting 8.6 points on 39.2 percent shooting from the field and 36.9 percent from 3-point range. In addition to the scoring, he’s also posted 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 20.4 minutes per contest.
Hield, along with a 2017 first round pick, is the centerpiece of the deal for Cousins. Defensively, he is a work in progress, but the Kings landed an intriguing player that is known as a hard worker off the court and a solid locker room guy.
Kings fans know Evans well from his four-year stretch in Sacramento beginning in 2009. The former Rookie of the Year has struggled with injuries over his last two seasons, playing a total of 51 games combined and has been on a minutes restriction in New Orleans.
He is still an effective scorer, rebounder and assist man, averaging 9.5 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in just 18.2 minutes per game. And at just 27-years-old, there is a chance he can bounce back and become the multi-positional stat stuffer from a year or two ago.
Evans is in the final year of his deal. If he’s healthy enough to play, he can step in and help the Kings at the small forward position that has been gutted by injury and the string of transactions.
Galloway joined the Pelicans over the summer after two seasons with thee Knicks. The 25-year-old point guard likes to shoot it, averaging 8.6 points on 37.7 percent from long range in 20.4 minutes per game.
The early talk had the Kings buying Galloway’s contract out, but it appears he is part of the short-term plan. Barring another trade, he will play behind Darren Collison and Ty Lawson at the point guard position.
There is no question that Cousins’ 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game will be missed in Sacramento. He has been the major cog in the Kings system for the last seven seasons and Joerger has limited options at the power forward position.
Sacramento can go big with second-year 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who is coming into his own. Veteran Anthony Tolliver is also an option to step in and start as a stretch four next to center Kosta Koufos and rookie Skal Labissiere might get a look as well, depending on what the Kings record looks like in a weeks or two.
The 13th overall selection, Giorgios Papagiannis, is also available to play minutes, although his readiness to contribute this season has been a question mark.
Replacing Cousins as an upper echelon NBA star is impossible this season for Sacramento. It might be years before they stumble on a player this good and that’s if they are lucky.
Casspi was a key reserve last season for Sacramento, but lost his minutes early in this year to Barnes and Tolliver. Injuries also played a role in Casspi’s limited opportunity this year. He played in just 22 games for Sacramento this season.
If he’s given the opportunity in New Orleans, Casspi could be a really nice fit on the frontline with Cousins and All-Star Anthony Davis. He’s shooting 37.9 percent from 3-point range this year after knocking down better than 40 percent from deep over the last two seasons.
Barnes became Joerger’s go to guy at both forward positions and his influence in the locker room was tremendous. A lightning rod for controversy, Barnes was posting 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 25.3 minutes per game.
Evans can step in and fill some of that role as a jack-of-all-trades wing, but he doesn’t have the size to play the power position. Garrett Temple will likely see increased action at the small forward as well once he returns from a torn hamstring.
The Kings saved money long-term with the deal. Cousins was due $18.1 million next season, not to mention the $219 million extension he was ready to sign. Casspi is a free agent this summer.
Hield is on his rookie scale deal that pays him $3.7 million next season. Evans is an unrestricted free agent and Galloway will likely opt in to his $5.4 million contract for the 2017-18 season.
The deal frees up roughly $9 million in salary and cap space. In addition, the Kings used the stretch provision to extend Barnes’ $6.4 million salary next season, breaking it up into three-years at $2.13 million and clearing up another $4.2 million in room for the summer of 2017.