It was the 518th road victory for Popovich, breaking a tie with Nelson for second on that career list. He’s now two behind leader Pat Riley.
San Antonio was already down eight points when the Spurs took a timeout around the midway point of the first quarter.
Then, after a turnover led to a Detroit dunk, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called another timeout, just 14 seconds after the first.
“Just mental errors, mental errors defensively, and gave them some easy buckets,” San Antonio guard Bryn Forbes said. “I don’t know if it was to slow the run, but kind of get our head on right — kind of slow their pace there.”
The Spurs responded well after those early problems, taking the lead by halftime and cruising to a 119-107 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points, and Popovich moved another step higher on the NBA’s career wins list.
Popovich now has 1,221 victories. He’s tied with Jerry Sloan for third place, trailing only Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens.
“I thought after the first quarter, we competed well, we were sharper and we executed better,” Popovich said. “We had a poor first quarter, but I thought we pulled it together and focused pretty well after that.”
The Spurs trailed 19-9 after the second of those two timeouts, but they appeared to get the message. A 23-2 run spanning parts of the first and second quarters put the Spurs up 45-33.
It was relatively smooth sailing from there for San Antonio, which led 59-51 at halftime and 84-73 after three quarters.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points for the Spurs. Blake Griffin scored 34 for Detroit, and Andre Drummond added 19 points and 14 rebounds.
“Everyone talked about the regime ending in San Antonio, but they still have two Hall of Fame players in LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan and they are obviously a well-coached team,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “I thought we got off to a great start, but their second unit came in and speeded things up. We didn’t match it. We have to be able to pump the gas at the start of the second quarter.”
San Antonio was without forward Rudy Gay, out with a sprained left wrist, but the Spurs still won a season-high fifth straight game. Detroit has lost seven of nine.
Popovich said Gay would likely miss the next two games as well.
Spurs: San Antonio came in averaging 12.3 turnovers per game, the lowest mark in the league. The Spurs had only nine against Detroit. … DeRozan also had nine assists and seven rebounds. … San Antonio went 26 of 32 on free throws, while Detroit was 14 of 17. … The Spurs remained percentage points behind Houston for the top spot in the Southwest Division.
Pistons: Detroit was without backup C Zaza Pachulia (right lower leg contusion).
Drummond played the entire first quarter, plus the first 4:56 of the second. That didn’t prevent San Antonio’s big run.
In addition to Pachulia, the Pistons are also without backup point guard Ish Smith (right adductor tear).
“Zaza and Ish are definitely missed, and I’m still trying to get adjusted to being out there with the second group,” Drummond said. “I’ve watched a lot of film of what they do, but I’m still working to find the best ways to get them involved and help them get into the best positions to score.”
Spurs: Visit Memphis on Wednesday night.
Pistons: Visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
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