Spurs Nation » Popovich likely to coach West at All-Star Game

By Mike Monroe

The Spurs contingent at the All-Star Game in Houston on Feb. 17 might grow by week’s end.

The “magic number” that will put coach Gregg Popovich on the Western Conference bench along with forward Tim Duncan and point guard Tony Parker was one as of Sunday.

Scott Brooks, coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, is ineligible to return as head coach for a second consecutive All-Star Game. That means only Popovich and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro remain in the running to coach the West at the Toyota Center.

The coach of the team with the best record in each conference is accorded the All-Star coaching honor, with the provision a coach can’t repeat from one year to the next. Deadline for determining the coaches is Feb. 3, with records measured at the end of play that day.

Little more than a week ago, Del Negro seemed certain to coach the West, but his team went into a Sunday night home game against Portland having lost four consecutive games.

Popovich’s Spurs, meanwhile, have won eight straight. Their last three victories have come without Duncan (left knee injury) and, ironically, Popovich (illness) himself.

The result: A three-game Spurs’ lead on the Clippers in the West standings.

Here’s the math that will determine the West All-Star coaching gig:

The Clippers entered their game against the Trail Blazers at 32-13. With a total of four games through Feb. 3, that means they can get through deadline day with a record no better than 36-13.

The Spurs (36-11) have only two games through Feb. 3, meaning they can be no worse than 36-13.

Thus, any combination of one Spurs’ win or one Clippers’ loss will put Popovich on the West sideline for the annual showcase.

The Spurs’ upcoming opponents are the 11-32 Charlotte Bobcats and the 11-31 Washington Wizards.

Popovich, who coached the West in 2005 and 2011, might want to start packing a bag for Houston.

Mills’ special day: Saturday was a day for reserve point guard Patty Mills to celebrate, and not just because he played for the first time in four games.

It was Australia Day, a national holiday commemorating the establishment of the first British settlement on the continent in 1788. The native of Canberra, Australia, took the opportunity to hand out Australia Day T-shirts to all his teammates.

Mills that night logged four-plus minutes late in the third quarter and into the fourth, making one of two shots in the Spurs’ 108-99 victory over visiting Phoenix.


Twitter: @Monroe_SA

via Spurs Nation » Popovich likely to coach West at All-Star Game.


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