CHARLOTTE- The Spurs came into town looking to capture a must win to stay relevant in their Western Conference playoff hunt. They managed to do that without their Hall of Fame coach in Gregg Popovich. His former go to option on the court, Tim Duncan, filled his shoes as the acting head coach for the night.
Duncan was not exactly off to a hot start at the end of the first. His Spurs were trailing 36-19 by the quarter’s end. Despite the large deficit, they edged out the Hornets 104-103.
“These guys have been battling really hard and we’ve kind of gotten ourselves in those positions where we’re down a bunch but this crew that we have here haven’t given up and they haven’t folded no matter what they’re down,” Tim Duncan said.
Duncan looked like a natural out there and is happy to get the first win under his belt, even if he did credit all the other members of the coaching stuff for doing all the work. Apparently, he was “the only one standing there screaming at people,” which is kind of hard to imagine.
It certainly is not a role he is ready to accept yet, as he mentioned when coach Pop returns he’ll happily hand it right over to him.
As for the Hornets, they fall to 0-2 during their four game home stand in another nail bitter. Despite the loss, Hornet’s coach Jame Borrego was able to evaluate the young talent on the roster by giving a couple of the rookies extra minutes, as well as a couple of G-League players. Without their rising star in Devonte’ Graham, the team struggled to take care of the ball, turning it over 17 times to the Spurs 10, including on the final possession.
Borrego expects nothing less of his former employer. He did get a little kick out of seeing the future hall of famer on the other sideline.
“It was a little odd looking down there at a Tim Duncan lead team. Usually he has a 21 on his jersey leading the group but tonight he had a blazer on.”
Duncan’s former teammate, Patty Mills also spoke highly of his assistant coaches debut:
“He’s obviously has that presence that everyone obviously listens to what he says. He’s very calm in situations and very constructive and everyone listens and tries to go out and accomplish that.”
The Spurs definitely came to play, showing their resiliency down the stretch of the game. It seems like the team bought in to Tim Duncan, Becky Hammon, and the rest of the staff’s ideals and managed to pull off the 17-point comeback. That comeback was fueled by Dejounte Muarry, who had a game high 21.
“We get paid to do this, so we had to pick it up and we we’re ready to play,” Muarry said. “As a point guard I need to continue to get comfortable and find a groove.”
Tim Duncan is somebody that we could have never predicted to be apart of a coaching staff, let alone filling in for a legend like coach Pop. Maybe we’ll see him take the keys to the Spurs organization whenever Pop is ready to call it quits on his hall of fame career.