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Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra doesn’t win Coach of the Year, avoids ‘jinx’

 
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bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra suggested Wednesday the fact he didn’t win the NBA Coach of the Year — he finished second to Denver’s George Karl — was actually a good thing.

Why?

Four of the previous seven coaches to win the award were fired within two years of winning it, though none of the past three lost their jobs.

“It’s not quite as definitive as the [Sports Illustrated] jinx, but pretty close,” he said, jokingly wiping his brow in relief when he learned he didn’t win it. “I congratulate George Karl. I know he didn’t want it, either. I’m probably more pleased this morning than George Karl. I’m not very superstitious.. but [coaches] are aware of the stigma.”

The winners of the award in 2006 ( Avery Johnson), 2007 ( Sam Mitchell), 2008 ( Byron Scott) and 2009 ( Mike Brown) were all eventually dumped by their teams. The previous three winners — Oklahoma City’s Scott Brooks, Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich — have excellent job security, however.

Spoelstra was not close to Karl in the final vote count. Karl had 404 points, Spoelstra 190. Karl had 62 first-place votes, Spoelstra 24. New York’s Mike Woodson finished third.

“I’m not surprised,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.

“I kind of knew Spo wasn’t going to get it because they expect us to be the team that we are. The good thing about it is he doesn’t care.

“George Karl did a hell of a job. I thought [Golden State’s] Mark Jackson did a hell of a job this year and really deserved some consideration.”

Jackson finished seventh, and Bulls coach Thibodeau was eighth.

Bulls injuries

Bulls forward Luol Deng remained in Chicago as he continues to recover from a bad reaction to a spinal tap, and his status will be re-evaluated Thursday. Thibodeau said Deng “is still not feeling great” and declined to speculate whether he would play Friday.

•  Kirk Hinrich missed his fifth game in a row with a bruised calf.

• Hoopsworld.com said Bulls point guard Derrick Rose — who has not played all season because of last April’s knee injury – might dress for Game 3. The Bulls did not specifically address that report, with Thibodeau saying there’s no change in his status.

Asked whether Rose might play in this series, Thibodeau smiled and said: “We’ll see. You never know.”

Rose told TNT this week he wouldn’t be working this hard before games and during practices if he didn’t believe he had a chance to play in the playoffs.

Making change

LeBron James made significant changes to his free-throw routine and delivery this week, implementing an approach used by Ray Allen.

With the new approach, he made 7 of 9 free throws in Game 1 (77.8 percent) after shooting 75.3 during the season.

“That’s the 75th time changing free throws as an NBA player,” he said. “If I miss four or five, then I’ll change again My mind is crazy sometimes.”

This and that

• Heat point guard Mario Chalmers said Wednesday morning that Nate Robinson is a tough cover because “he can get through any little cracks or crevices. He’s always on the go…. [But] I can stop him. I know what I’m capable of.”

• Spoelstra said he played Mike Miller in Game 1 because “we needed an extra guy. His versatility is a factor in this series. If we play small, you want your perimeter players to be able to rebound, and Mike’s proven that’s one of his strengths.”

• Game 5 of the series has been set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

• Bulls forward Joakim Noah, asked whether it’s fun to play for Thibodeau, responded: “I wouldn’t… eh, no. Let’s not get carried away.”

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