MIAMI — One day after earning the nod as coach of the Eastern Conference for the All-Star game, Miami’s Erik Spoelstra wasn’t ready to announce his starters.
“Wouldn’t it be so much more fun with some suspense,” Spoelstra said Monday before the Heat hosted the Charlotte Bobcats. “We have time.”
The Heat’s 100-85 victory at Toronto on Sunday guaranteed Miami the top spot in the conference as of Feb. 3, percentage points ahead of the New York Knicks. That means Spoelstra and his staff will be in charge of the East All-Stars in Houston for the midseason contest on Feb. 17.
With Boston guard Rajon Rondo out for the season after tearing a knee ligament, Spoelstra was asked if a point guard should be Rondo’s replacement in the starting lineup, or perhaps another player such as Heat forward Chris Bosh.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Spoelstra said.
Brooklyn center Brook Lopez was selected by NBA Commissioner David Stern as Rondo’s replacement on the East roster.
Spoelstra, the fifth-year coach who led the Heat to the NBA championship last June, allowed his team to remain in Toronto after Sunday’s game to watch the Super Bowl. The team watched the game in a private room at a Toronto sports bar and did not return to South Florida until about 2 a.m.
“There was a groundswell of enthusiasm to watch the game, not only the players but also the staff,” Spoelstra said. “We all wanted to see it. It felt so awkward that we’d be up in the air missing it. We decided that the benefits outweighed any perceived negatives and it ended up being a great team building, bonding experience for our guys. It was a lot of fun.”
Clippers’ Griffin out with strained left hamstring: In Washington, Blake Griffin’s streak of 197 consecutive games came to an end Monday.
The Los Angeles Clippers forward was scratched from the lineup with a strained left hamstring minutes before the tipoff of Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards.
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2009 had played in every game since missing the entire 2009-10 season with a left knee injury.
Griffin is the Clippers’ leading scorer and rebounder, averaging 18.5 points and 8.6 rebounds.
The Clippers also were without point guard Chris Paul, who missed his eighth consecutive game with a bruised right kneecap.