The Miami Heat beat the Toronto Raptors, 100-85, on Sunday afternoon, meaning Knicks coach Mike Woodson is now free to spend All-Star weekend in a warm-weather climate of his choice.
The Heat are now 30-14, or half a game ahead of the Knicks (30-15) for the best record in the Eastern Conference at the cutoff date.
Had the Heat lost, Woodson would have coached the East All-Stars, including Knicks Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, in the Feb. 17 All-Star Game in Houston.
He would also have coached LeBron James and jokingly said he would play him the whole game to tire him out for the second half of the season.
Now Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will lead the East, and will surely rest James appropriately.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will lead the West All-Stars.
“If it doesn’t happen I’ll take two or three days off and take it easy and reflect on the first half of the season and try to get ready for the stretch run,” Woodson said following the Knicks’ 120-81 rout of Sacramento Saturday at MSG.
Woodson added: “I’m not sitting here holding my breath about coaching the All-Star team. I’m looking at the big picture and the big picture is trying to get this team to the Finals and try to win an NBA championship.”
The Knicks are 15 games over .500 for the first time since April 2001 and are in position to land one of the top two seeds in the East.
“I am very pleased on where we are as a ballclub,” Woodson said. “I honestly thought when we assembled this team we could win our division and be at the top of the East. There was no doubt in my mind., if we stayed healthy, we would give ourselves a legitimate chance.
“I am not shocked in terms of where we are but I am very excited. We have to continue the pace.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.