Manu Ginobili scores 28 as Spurs beat Pacers 106-100 without coach Gregg Popovich



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SAN ANTONIO — With Gregg Popovich resting after a medical procedure, Manu Ginobili had a throwback game while playing under former coach Ettore Messina for the first time in 13 years.

Ginobili had 21 of his 28 points in the second half and the San Antonio Spurs won without coach Popovich, rallying for a 106-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.

Popovich missed the game after undergoing what the team is calling a minor medical procedure. He is expected to miss Friday's home game against Sacramento, too.

Messina took over for Popovich, becoming the first European-born coach to run an NBA team in the regular season.

"It's just great to see (Manu) get his legs underneath him; get an opportunity to make some shots," Spurs veteran Tim Duncan said before teasing his fiery coach. "I think he's going to talk to somebody about not having Pop here anymore and letting coach Messina let him play like that."

After struggling with various leg injuries over the past few seasons, Ginobili resembled the high-flying star that played for Bologna in 2001 under Messina before joining the Spurs.

Ginobili helped the Spurs go on a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter in rallying for their fifth straight victory.

"I told Manu, 'I owe you another win in my career," Messina said. "He was unbelievable. He was all over the place, not only basketball wise, but his effort and his desire was contagious."

Tony Parker scored 21 points for San Antonio (10-4), and Kawhi Leonard had 21 points and 13 rebounds. Duncan finished with 17 points.

"There's a reason why (they have won five titles)," Stuckey said. "Ginobili's Ginobili, Parker does what he does, Tim Duncan does what he does. That's their trio right there, they do it well, that's why they're here, that's why they've been together for so long; they're great players."

Stuckey had 22 points and Luis Scola scored 13 for Indiana (6-9).

Ginobili came alive after being limited to seven points on 2-for-6 shooting in the first half.

After trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, Ginobili energized the Spurs when he returned to the court with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

"It was great to see (Messina) out there and trying to take over the team and yell at us and get upset," Ginobili said. "It really got me thinking about 13 years ago. I am happy for him; I know it's not easy to go and replace Pop, even if it's for just one game."

Ginobiili hit a 3-pointer and then followed with a pair of free throws to put San Antonio up 75-73 for its first lead since 37-36 midway through the second quarter.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Indiana was without G George Hill (bruised left knee), F David West (sprained right ankle), G C.J. Watson (bruised right foot) and C Roy Hibbert (sprained left ankle) in addition to F Paul George (fractured right leg).

Spurs: G Marco Belinelli returned to his normal reserve role after starting the previous game. ... F Matt Bonner addressed the crowd prior to tip-off, wishing the crowd a Happy Thanksgiving and saying the team was thankful for the fans' support. ... The sell-out crowd began singing the National Anthem aloud in support of Lindsay Puente, 9, who appeared to forget some of the words before completing the song.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host Orlando on Friday.

Spurs: Host Sacramento on Friday.

A FIRST

Messina becomes the first European-born coach to run an NBA team in the regular season.

David Blatt, who is in his first season as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers after a successful career in Europe, was born in Boston.

Messina served as Spurs head coach in the a 121-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 16 in the preseason when Popovich opted to stay at home.

"I am terribly scared," Messina said of his regular season debut. "I am average scared. Not scared at all. You pick up the (one you want).

"I'm trying to think what Pop would have said to you. I haven't thought about (being the first European-born coach in the NBA) honestly. You try to stay focused on what you have to do that's it."

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