NBA to Punish Spurs for Resting Key Players?

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(PHOTOS:REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan dunks the ball during the first quarter of the Spurs NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland, March 2, 2011.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said he wants to punish the San Antonio Spurs for resting key players against Miami on Thursday.

The Spurs rested Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green instead of playing them against current NBA champions the Miami Heat this week, sparking criticism from various analysts an fans.

The Spurs may well have won the game if their top players had played, and they in fact led the game 98-93 with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. However, the Heat ultimately came out on top to claim a 105-100 win with a 12-2 point run against the Spurs at the end.

That result leaves the Spurs on a record of 13-4.

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

Coach Gregg Popovich told reporters prior to the game, "Everybody has to make decisions about their schedule, about players playing and back-to-backs and trips and that sort of thing."

"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..."

LeBron James has defended his opponents saying, "It doesn't matter who's out on the floor, everybody's in the NBA for a reason. We don't underestimate anyone."