Gregg Popovich explains why he benched Spurs starters

21 April 2017 16:26

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he sat his entire starting line-up just 52 seconds into the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies because they started like they "were out on a picnic".

The Spurs trailed 50-46 at half-time in game three of the playoff series with the Grizzlies, but a trio of errors saw them fall nine points adrift just one minute into the third quarter at FedExForum.

Popovich reacted by pulling Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dewayne Dedmon, Danny Green and Tony Parker out of the game, with Memphis going on to secure a 105-94 win, though they still trail 2-1 in the series.

"We turned it over twice to start the minute like we were out on a picnic someplace," Popovich said in his post-match news conference.

"I don't know. Those two turnovers, and then the mistake defensively where Marc [Gasol] got the three-pointer at the top, and all of a sudden, it was a nine-point game.

"I thought at that point, we lost a little bit of composure and a little bit of confidence, and the rest ensued."

Popovich started sending starters back into the game after falling 12 points behind, but the damage was done with the Spurs outscored 31-17 in the third quarter,

Here is how some of his players reacted to a call that, in the end, did not pay off.


Tony Parker: "That's just coach Pop. I don't know what you can say."

Kawhi Leonard: "He was just disappointed in the last couple plays. So I guess he thought that we all should come out at the game at that time, and see if that second unit had more energy."

Manu Ginobili: "Pop got upset with the guys starting the quarter, sat them, and the whole momentum changed. In playoff games, especially on the road, a two-minute mental 'something' can become a 10-point deficit. That's what happened. We were in good shape at the half. Not playing well, not shooting great, down four on the road, and it was a good situation. It was OK for us. We had that moment there in which the whole game changed. I guess he wanted to point out that it was not the right approach to start a third quarter."

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