Spurs news: Tim Duncan to take over vs. Hornets with Gregg Popovich out
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Tim Duncan will coach Spurs as Gregg Popovich misses game vs. Hornets for personal reasons

Spurs, Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach and all-time legend Tim Duncan will step in as head coach for the team’s Tuesday night game against the Charlotte Hornets. Head coach Gregg Popovich will not be with the team due to a personal issue.

As Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer pointed out, it’s the first NBA game Duncan has coached from the jump. The pending Hall of Famer filled in earlier this season when Popovich was ejected in the third quarter of the Spurs’ Nov. 16 matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers (Portland won, 121-116).

The fact that Tim Duncan, who joined the coaching staff last July, was pegged as the replacement in that game over more experienced assistants such as Becky Hammon and Will Hardy was surprising to some, though Gregg Popovich said at the time the decision had to do with Duncan’s role in scouting Portland. It’s possible the Hornets are also one of the squads under Duncan’s domain.

The Spurs (25-34) entered Tuesday night as losers of seven of their past 10 games and the no.12 team in the Western Conference standings, four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies (30-31) for the final playoff spot. San Antonio hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1996-97 — the longest such streak in American major pro sports.

The Hornets (21-39) find themselves on the outside looking in of the race for the no. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, 5.5 games back of the struggling Brooklyn Nets.