Tim Duncan got his first victory as an acting head coach Tuesday night, when he filled in for Gregg Popovich during the San Antonio Spurs’ 104-103 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Popovich missed the game while dealing with “personal business,” according to the team. He is expected to return to the bench for Friday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets.
The team would not say if Popovich made the trip to Charlotte.
Duncan was mostly mild-mannered on the bench, not showing much emotion as the game progressed.
However, he challenged a charge call by Derrick White with 9:09 left in the fourth quarter, but the play was not overturned.
The Hornets jumped to a 12-2 lead to open the game, prompting Duncan to use his first timeout. Charlotte extended its lead to as many 17 in the first half, but the Spurs battled back to take a 77-76 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“It’s night and day, to be in the big-boy chair,” Duncan told Fox Sports Southwest. “But truth be told, I wasn’t in the big-boy chair. We’ve got [Spurs assistants] Becky [Hammon] and Will [Hardy] and Mitch [Johnson]. Mitch prepped the game for us, Becky and Will were making all the calls, and I was the only one just standing there screaming at people — nonsensical stuff.
“So we did it coach-by-committee, and it could’ve been any one of us up there and we would’ve done exactly the same stuff.”
Earlier this season, Duncan was the acting head coach when Popovich was ejected during the a loss to Portland on Nov. 16.
Duncan spent his entire 19-year career with the Spurs and has been an assistant coach since July 2019.
Duncan, 43, won five NBA championships with the Spurs and will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame later this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.