Spoelstra no puppet
Heat coach says he didn’t call for George’s ejection
DALLAS — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Monday he did not exert sideline influence in an attempt to have Pacers forward Paul George ejected from Saturday’s game at American-Airlines Arena.
In the wake of being ejected early in the third quarter of the Pacers’ loss, George said in the Indiana locker room after the game that referee Gary Zielinski called a technical foul on him because, “He was a puppet with Spoelstra in his ear and he called it.”
The technical foul was the second of the game on George, which mandated the ejection.
George acknowledged uttering a profanity prior to the ejection, one that was offered within earshot of the Heat bench.
Spoelstra said Monday that he neither called for a technical foul on George nor the ejection.
“No, I think those are just the emotions of the game,” he said of turning toward Zielinski. “I just looked at him, because we all heard. So I just looked at him. I actually didn’t say anything after. I just looked at him.”
The glance was noted by George.
Spoelstra said he does not argue for technical fouls because he does not want his players utilizing such approaches, either.
“In fact,” he said, “I tend to lean the other way, get our guys to stop using the officials as a crutch and get our guys to concentrate more consistently on the game.
“It’s a very emotional game. It’s an almost-impossible game to officiate. We all get frustrated. But I think one of the goals of developing some mental toughness is staying away from it.”
Spoelstra said it was difficult not to react, with George offering the profanity directly in front of the Heat bench, within earshot of more than just Zielinski.
“I think that was more of an isolated incident,” he said of offering a reaction of his own.
Has his vote
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Monday that Spoelstra, “has thrust himself into the conversation for Coach of the Year, without question.”
Speaking in advance of the teams’ game at the American Airlines Center, Carlisle, who is president of the NBA coaches’ association, said the Heat have become one of the league’s most compelling stories amid their revival from their 11-30 standing at midseason.
“These guys are legit,” Carlisle said after the Mavericks’ morning shootaround. “I’ve been around this a long time. I don’t knowif I’ve ever seen a better drive-and-kick, share-the-ball, great chemistry team than what they’ve got going right now, the whole time I’ve been in this league.
“And nobody’s talking about ‘em. That’s the amazing thing.”
The irony is that Monday’s game was removed from TNT’s national schedule amid the Heat’s climb back into the playoff race.
“These guys are putting up phenomenal numbers,” Carlisle said. “And they’re not just beating people, they’re wiping people out. So they’ve got amovement going over there. They’re going to be a tough outfit to slowdown.”
Having worked to help bring three NBA titles to Miami, Heat forward Udonis Haslem said Sunday’s Academy Awards felt like another championship to his hometown.
With the award for Best Picture going to “Moonlight,” based, in part, on life in Liberty City, and with so much South Florida talent involved in the project’s success, Haslem said he immediately began viewing the movie at the conclusion of Sunday’s awards telecast.
“Oh man, itwas dope for me, it was dope,” he said of the moment when the confusion was cleared and Miami had its Oscar moment.
“I was proud, obviously being a Liberty City guy, of the accomplishments,” Haslem said. “Just hats off, man, to bringing another treasure to the city.”
Haslem, who shared in the Heat’s 2006, ‘12 and ‘13 NBA championships, attempted to immerse himself in Sunday’s moment.
“I’ve seen some of it,” he said. “I fell asleep on it last night
“After I sawthem get the awards, I decided to start watching it and I dozed off.”
Of “La La Land” initially being declared Best Picture before the confusion was cleared, Haslem said, “Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes.”
iwinderman@sunsentinel. Follow him at twitter.com/iraheatbeat or facebook.com/ira.winderman
Pacers forward Paul George was ejected from Saturday’s Heat game in the third quarter after cursing at referee Gary Zielinski.