Notes on a scorecard: Why Pop’s record is a big deal, even if he disagrees

Gregg Popovich looked like somebody had slipped him an exploding cigar during his post-game press conference.

The Spurs coach never has been one to show much ego or emotion about his own achievements.

So knowing Popovich like we do, it doesn’t surprise many that he didn’t seem overly excited about learning that he had passed Red Auerbach for second place for coaching victories with a single franchise.

After his team defeated Sacramento, 124-92, Wednesday night, Popovich now has 796 victories with the Spurs. It’s behind only Jerry Sloan’s 1,127 victories with the Utah Jazz, but tops the 795 wins earned by Red Auerbach from 1950-66 with the Boston Celtics.

His players were more excited about the honor than the veteran coach seemed to be.

“Pop doesn’t let us know his individual achievements,” Spurs guard George Hill said, laughing. “But I’ll have to congratulate him on that first time I see him tomorrow.”

Hill threatened to bring Popovich a cake to mark the achievement — even if he might not want to acknowledge his achievement.

“I think I should go buy a cake and come in and surprise him with a cake,” Hill said. “Somebody will have to give me the real stats so I’ll know what to put on the cake.”

Here are a few other notes and factoids from the Spurs’ third straight victory and their second victory of more than 17 points in their last two home games.

  • Manu Ginobili finished with 25 points for the 14th time this season. The Spurs are 13-1 in those games. He’s hit 57.1 percent from the field in his last two games. And he hit 4-for-6 from behind the 3-point arc against the Kings, snapping a streak where he hit 3-for-18 from beyond the arc (16.7 percent) in his previous five games. 
  • Tony Parker notched 15 points in only 26:35 — his 10th lowest game in terms of playing time this season. It continued a streak where he’s hit 51.5 percent from the field and averaged 20.3 points in his last six games. He also notched six rebounds and six assists. Park has produced 15 points, six rebounds and six assists in three games this season — all Spurs victories.
  • With 19 points,  Hill continued his recent surge that has included at least 19 points in four of his last seven games. During that period, Hill has hit 56.4 percent from the field, 45.5 percent from 3-point territory, 83.8 percent from the line and averaged 18.4 points per game.   
  • After he was shut out for  only the third time of the season last night in Atlanta , Gary Neal rebounded to scored 14 points on 6-for-8 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc. It’s his third double-figure game in his last four.
  • Tim Duncan had a productive game filling up the stat sheet in limited playing time, notching 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Since returning from his injury five games ago, Duncan is averaging 16.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 blocked shots. He’s also shooting 64.6 percent and 78.2 from the foul line. All of that totals are better than his season average before the injury with the exception of  his blocked shots.
  • It also marked the sixth time this season that Duncan has notched at least 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks in a game. The Spurs are 6-0 in those games.
  • Richard Jefferson bounced back from his struggles against Atlanta to score nine points on 4-for-5 shooting. He was averaging only 7.3 points per game in his previous three games before Wednesday. But his shooting has been strong, including Wednesday’s game. He’s hit 60 percent from the field in his last three games.
  • After showing promise in recent games, Danny Green erupted for a career-high nine points in 12:38, hitting 4-for-7 from the field. In his last two games, he’s averaging 8.0 points, hitting 70 percent from the field and 66.7 percent of his 3-point shots.
  • Antonio McDyess had a productive night with eight points, seven rebounds and two assists. In his last three games, he’s averaging 8.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists. As a starter, he’s averaging  6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per  game in 15 games. During that period, the Spurs are 9-6.
  • Besides impressing Popovich with his hustle, DeJuan Blair produced six points, eight  rebounds and three assists. It came within one assist of matching his season high in assists and within one rebound of his high since being demoted from the starting lineup.
  • After picking up a DNP against Atlanta, Tiago Splitter played only 3:29 against Sacramento. He finished with four points, two rebounds and a steal in his limited time. It marked his shortest playing stint since notching 33 seconds March 9 against Detroit.
  • The Spurs set several season highs during their blistering second half. They notched 41 points in the third quarter for their highest scoring quarter of the season. They also hit 82.4 percent from the field in that quarter for their highest in a quarter this season. And their 73 points was the highest they’ve scored in any half this season, topping the 72 at Washington on Feb. 12.
  • San Antonio’s 124 points was their second-highest scoring game of the season, topped only by the 125 points against Miami on March 4.
  • The Spurs’ 60.5 field-goal percentage was their highest since hitting 64.3 percent against Detroit on March 9. Those are the only two times the Spurs have hit 60 percent or better from the field this season.
  • San Antonio’s 63.2 percent was tied for second this season in 3-point percentage, trailing only the 64.7 percent against the Clippers on Nov. 10. And after struggling from the foul line during the losing streak, the Spurs have hit at least 80 percent in back-to-back games for the first time since the Golden State and Denver games on March 19 and 21.
  • The Spurs also notched 36 fast-break points to tie their single-game high against Philadelphia on Nov. 11.
  • Their defense kicked in as they limited Sacramento to 39.8 percent from the field. It was their lowest defensive field-goal percentage since allowing Cleveland to hit 39.6 percent from the field on March 2. When the Spurs limit opponents to less than 40 percent shooting this season they are 14-1.
  • Nine of the 12 players on the Spurs’ playing roster had double-figure positive plus-minus scores. McDyess led the team at plus-25. Duncan was at plus-22. Parker was at plus-21. Ginobili was at plus-20. Jefferson was at plus-15. Hill was at plus-11. Only Matt Bonner at minus-2 had a negative score. The Spurs’ starters were a combined plus-103. The reserves were a plus-57.
  • All of the San Antonio players scored with the exception of Steve Novak. Da’Sean Butler, Chris Quinn and James Anderson all were inactive.

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