Record watch for Gregg Popovich as Spurs host Raptors
San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich can become the winningest coach in NBA history when his Spurs host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
But you won’t catch Popovich talking about the record, as his focus is on trying to climb the standings and reach the postseason.
The Spurs’ 117-110 win over the LeBron James-less Los Angeles Lakers on Monday allowed Popovich to equal Don Nelson’s mark with 1,335 career victories.
Dejounte Murray had 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the win as all five starters hit double figures. Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson scored 18 points apiece, Keldon Johnson added 13 and Doug McDermott chipped in 11. The Spurs survived a ragged final four minutes and a woeful 16-of-30 showing from the foul line to snap a four-game losing streak.
“We didn’t handle the ball and I thought we were sloppy,” Popovich said. “We were a little bit quick, not very patient. But we played good defense down the stretch, and that’s what fueled our lead. We weren’t great offensively, but we got a lot of good stops. We’re thrilled with the win.”
San Antonio entered Tuesday in 12th place in the Western Conference, 2 1/2 games out of the 10th spot and a berth in the play-in tournament with 17 games left in its regular season.
Popovich, 73, is in his 26th season with the Spurs and has guided them to five NBA championships.
Poeltl said talk about Popovich’s pending record was off limits in the locker room.
“You guys know Pop — I don’t think he really cares about stuff like that,” Poeltl said. “Didn’t even really get mentioned. I doubt it will get mentioned when we get the next win. It’s just how he is. It’s really impressive, though.”
The Raptors head to San Antonio after a 104-96 loss in Cleveland on Sunday, their third consecutive setback. Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 24 points while Chris Boucher added 21 and Gary Trent Jr. and Scottie Barnes scored 19 each.
“There’s a lot of things that we have to do better, and we’ve done it before, so it’s not like it’s not possible to be done,” Boucher said.
Toronto was without All-Star Fred VanVleet for the fifth consecutive contest because of knee soreness and OG Anunoby missed his seventh straight game with a fractured finger.
“(The lineup) kind of keeps changing, who’s going where, and in basketball when it’s two guys, it could be a domino effect (where) three or four guys are moving positions,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “So, I think it looked a little clunky the last couple of games on top of not a ton of energy. We’re cleaning it up slowly here with this group.”
Toronto began Tuesday in seventh place in the East, 2 1/2 games up on Charlotte and Brooklyn and three games in back of Cleveland for sixth. If the Raptors can overtake the Cavaliers, they would be in position to avoid the play-in tournament.