Spurs beat Pacers 106-100 without Popovich
SAN ANTONIO — Manu Ginobili had 28 points and the San Antonio Spurs won without coach Gregg Popovich, rallying for a 106-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Popovich missed the game after undergoing what the team is calling a minor medical procedure. His status for Friday’s home game against Sacramento is unknown.
Assistant Ettore Messina took over for Popovich, becoming the first European-born coach to run an NBA team in the regular season.
Ginobili resembled the high-flying, energetic star that played for Bologna in 2001 under Messina before joining the Spurs, helping San Antonio’s Big Three direct the team to victory without their fiery coach.
“As we’ve always said, this is a very well-oiled machine,” Messina said prior to the game. “They know what they have to do. They are experienced. They have faced thousands of situations. If there is a team that can absorb (a loss), even if we are talking about coach Pop, this team is ready to face any situation with their experience, with their togetherness and with their intelligence.”
Tony Parker scored 21 points for San Antonio (10-4), and Kawhi Leonard had 21 points and 13 rebounds. Tim Duncan finished with 17 points.
Rodney Stuckey had 22 points and Luis Scola scored 13 for Indiana (6-9).
Ginobili scored 21 in the second half, helping the Spurs go on a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter in rallying for their fifth straight victory.
After trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, Ginobili energized the Spurs when he returned to the court with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
He hit a 3-pointer and then followed with a pair of free throws to put San Antonio up 75-73 for its first lead since 37-36 midway through the second quarter.
After leaping to make a right-handed catch to save an errant pass from flying out of bounds, Ginobili whipped a pass in the same motion to Aron Baynes in the lane for a floating jumper to help San Antonio close to 82-79.
Ginobili later stripped a defensive rebound under the basket and twisted around two defenders for a layup to cut the Pacers’ lead to 84-81 with 10 minutes left.
Pacers: Indiana was without G George Hill (bruised left knee), F David West (sprained right ankle), G C.J. Watson (bruised right foot) and C Roy Hibbert (sprained left ankle) in addition to F Paul George (fractured right leg).
Spurs: G Marco Belinelli returned to his normal reserve role after starting the previous game. … F Matt Bonner addressed the crowd prior to tip-off, wishing the crowd a Happy Thanksgiving and saying the team was thankful for the fans’ support. … The sell-out crowd began singing the National Anthem aloud in support of Lindsay Puente, 9, who appeared to forget some of the words before completing the song.
Pacers: Host Orlando on Friday.
Spurs: Host Sacramento on Friday.
*Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Darren Abate