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Spurs to sit four key players against Heat

The SportsXchange

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich left four Spurs starters at home for their nationally televised game against the Miami Heat on Thursday night.

Forwards Tim Duncan, Danny Green and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili stayed in San Antonio Those four players are four of the Spurs' top five scorers, averaging a combined 57.9 points a game. That's more than half of the 102.6 points a game the Spurs average.

The Miami game was to be the Spurs' 12th game on the road this month and their fourth in five nights.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that Popovich hinted at such a move Wednesday night after the Spurs' 110-89 victory at the Orlando Magic.

"We're getting tired," Popovich said. "We've had a six-day trip and a 10-day trip. Usually you don't have that in one month."

Because of injuries to Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson, the Spurs were set to use a roster of nine players against the defending NBA champion Heat. It is a similar strategy he used three times last season, once in February and twice in April leading up to the playoffs, but rarely is a move like this made so early in the season.

Heat coach Eric Spoelstra was not planning any countermoves. Forward Shane Battier already was expected not to play because of a knee injury and guard Ray Allen was a game-time decision with a stiff back.

"If San Antonio is resting some of their players, that doesn't really affect my mind," Spoelstra said before the game. "We haven't played since last Saturday, so this is an opportunity for us to get back out on the court together.

"Every team is different. ... They have it done. It is not a surprise."

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