Tim Duncan Steps In For Gregg Popovich, Records First Win As Head Coach
Former Spurs’ legend Tim Duncan received his first win as a head coach in Tuesday’s 104-103 victory over the Hornets while filling in for Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich who was dealing with “personal business,” according to ESPN. Popovich is expected to return this Friday when the Spurs take on the Nets.
“It’s night and day to be in the big-boy chair,” Duncan told ESPN. “But truth be told, I wasn’t in the big-boy chair. We’ve got [assistants] Becky [Hammon] and Will [Hardy] and Mitch [Johnson]. Mitch prepped the game for us, Becky and Will were making all the calls, and I was the only one just standing there screaming at people — nonsensical stuff. So we did it coach by committee, and it could’ve been any one of us up there and we would’ve done exactly the same stuff.”
Duncan appeared to be the polar opposite of Popovich who is frequently animated on the sidelines during games. When asked if he had any desire to be a head coach in the NBA, he bluntly replied, “Nope. Pop is going to be back, and I will be happy to hand it right over to him.”
The Spurs started off slow and were down by 17 at one point in the first half, but were able to storm back and enter the fourth quarter with a 77-76 lead. The fourth quarter was tightly contested and the Spurs found themselves up one as Hornets’ point guard Terry Rozier dribbled down the court with a chance to win it. San Antonio was able to catch a break as a pass from Rozier to Cody Martin bobbled out of his hands and time expired on the Hornets’ final possession.
Prior to the final shot, the Spurs had a five point lead and Duncan felt confident there would be no suspense en route to the win. “But they had to make it interesting. I think they did that out of spite,” Duncan said with a smile.
“He obviously has that presence that everyone likes to listen to what he says, and you know he’s very calm in situations and very constructive, and everyone listens and goes out and tries to accomplish that,” Patty Mills said. “So it was good to see everyone dialed in to what he was saying.”
“It was fun just getting in the huddles, especially for a guy like me who had the privilege to play against Tim,” DeMar DeRozan said. “Now to be sitting in the huddle, listening to him coach, it was great.”