Despite the fact that Tim Duncan has been on the sidelines all season as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, it was a particularly strange sight to see the soon to be inducted Hall of Famer running the show with the clipboard in hand against the Charlotte Hornets.
Gregg Popovich was absent for the game in Charlotte, leading to Duncan's promotion to head coach for the evening.
Gregg Popovich will miss tonight's Spurs-Hornets game due to personal business.- San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 3, 2020
Tim Duncan will serve as the Spurs head coach tonight in place of Pop. pic.twitter.com/pvZFshWuOs
With Duncan calling the shots, the Spurs were able to pull off an impressive come-from-behind victory, hanging on to win by a final score of 104-103.
Dejounte Murray led the Spurs with 21 points, while Bryn Forbes added 15 and Patty Mills chipped in with 13 off the bench.
Trailing 36-19 through one quarter, San Antonio had its work cut out on the second night of a back-to-back.
Outscoring the Hornets 58-40 through the next two periods, the Spurs were able to set themselves up for a tense finish.
When Murray buried a free-throw line jumper with 2:12 remaining, the Spurs held a 104-97. From that point on they would go 0-for-4 and rely on a Terry Rozier turnover, resulting in a Trey Lyles steal in the dying seconds to clinch the victory.
DJ AT THE BUZZER! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/NwxcuI9MOW- San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 4, 2020
The win technically gives Duncan a 1-0 record as an NBA head coach, but as Marc Stein of the New York Times pointed out postgame, NBA stat keeping will officially credit the win to Popovich's name.
Perhaps more importantly, the win keeps San Antonio in the race for the final postseason spot in the Western Conference, as it now sits 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies with 22 games left in the regular season.
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