Spurs’ Popovich ties Nelson for NBA career win record | Radio WGN 720

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Gregg Popovich tied Don Nelson’s NBA record with his 1,335th career win as a coach in the San Antonio Spurs’ 117-110 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.

Popovich chose to ignore the achievement, as he had many others during his illustrious 26-year tenure in charge of San Antonio. He didn’t tell the players about it after the win, and he didn’t answer any questions about the record during a brief three-question session with reporters afterwards.

“You know Pop,” San Antonio center Jakob Poeltl said. “I don’t think he really cares about that stuff. It wasn’t even really mentioned. I doubt it will be mentioned in the next victory. That’s how he is.

Popovich will look to get past Nelson when San Antonio host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

“It’s hard to put into words the impact he had on the Spurs organization, on USA Basketball and on basketball in general,” Spurs guard Josh Richardson said.

The only difference between this record-breaking match and all the previous ones was Popovich, 73,’s decision to do some physicals with the players before the game.

“He was trying to make us play a bit more aggressive,” Poeltl said. “In recent games, we have been rather soft in defense. Shootaround this morning was a bit more intense. I think it was just him trying to get a message across. He was shoving the guys around, and then it kind of ended up in a mosh-pit situation.

San Antonio needed the jolt, even with the Lakers struggling without LeBron James.

Spurs had lost four games in a row with Popovich close to tying the record, and they risked extending that slippage with a late collapse as James sat the game down with a sore left knee.

Dejounte Murray had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Poeltl and Richardson each had 18 points. Richardson was making his first start with San Antonio.

Talen Horton-Taylor had 18 points to lead Los Angeles, and Russell Westbrook, Malik Monk and Carmelo Anthony added 17 points apiece.

Popovich has five NBA titles and is a lock for entry into the NBA Hall of Fame after a career in which he coached big-name Spurs including David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Robinson sat down on the court on Monday and Popovich jokingly told him to check out the game for a while.

These aren’t the same Spurs of Robinson’s premium. San Antonio is 25-40, already assured of a third straight losing season after 22 consecutive finishes above .500. Monday’s game almost got away too.

The Lakers shot 108-105 on the Horton-Taylor jumper with 5:40 left, and the Spurs were scoreless for nearly four minutes before Poeltl’s free throw with 37.4 seconds left. However, Los Angeles never came closer than three hours.

“They just played a little smarter than us down the stretch,” Los Angeles guard Malik Monk said.

The Lakers were without James and Anthony Davis. James was eliminated late Monday after scoring a season-high 56 points on Saturday in a win over the Golden State Warriors.

Los Angeles had lost four straight and seven of eight before James’ highest point total with the Lakers, which was the third-highest of his career.

“It’s a little frustrating that we have a big win like we did against Golden State and Lebron’s knee is a little sore and he has to miss and we’re taking a step back,” Monk said. “We have to do a better job and figure things out as a team when he’s out.”

It was the eighth straight game the Lakers faced a double-digit deficit.

The Lakers stayed in the game cutting to the edge without the ball for open layups, drives to the basket and Spurs’ poor free throw shot. San Antonio was 16 for 30 in free throws, including 6 for 14 in the third quarter.

ADVICE

Lakers: James has missed 17 games this season due to various injuries, including abdominal and ankle pain. Los Angeles coach Frank Vogel hopes James will play in Houston on Wednesday. … Westbrook picked up his third foul with 11:38 left in the first half. He finished with five fouls in 35 minutes.

Spurs: Devin Vassell, Lonnie Walker IV and Keita Bates-Diop all missed the game due to undisclosed illness. Popovich said it was unrelated to COVID-19. … Poeltl committed two fouls in the first minute and a half and spent the rest of the first quarter on the bench.

FOLLOWING

Lakers: At Houston on Wednesday.

Spurs: Host Toronto on Wednesday.

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