AP NEWS

Popovich ejected as Spurs blown out by Nuggets

April 4, 2019

DENVER — For second time in the past three games Gregg Popovich was ejected, this time he was hit with his second technical foul and ejected him just 63 seconds into the game and the Spurs lost 113-85 to the Nuggets in a potential playoff preview.

It was one of the quickest ejections in NBA history. He was also tossed in Sunday’s 113-106 loss to Sacramento, but that ejection came in the third quarter.

Popovich’s original beef Wednesday was with referee Mark Ayotte, who hit him with the first technical. Assistant coaches Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka couldn’t shield Popovich from Ayotte, and David Guthrie hit him with a second technical, resulting in the ejection.

Asked why he thought he got tossed, Popovich said, “You’ll have to ask the officials that.”

Popovich first confronted Ayotte after calling a timeout when Denver took a 5-0 lead on a cutting dunk by Jamal Murray on a pick-and-roll pass from Nikola Jokic.

LaMarcus Aldridge was shoved early in the game without a call being made, but it’s uncertain whether that non-call was what got Popovich upset.

But by Popovich standards, his outburst at Ayotte and Guthrie was mild. With the fans cheering, Popovich calmly walked to the locker room after getting tossed.

It’s uncertain whether Popovich’s ejection is the quickest of a coach in NBA history. Joey Crawford tossed Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson 93 seconds into a game against Minnesota at the Target Center on Dec. 7, 2004.

This much, though, is certain: Popovich’s ejection marked the quickest of a coach in the NBA since the Timberwolves’ Flip Saunders was ejected 106 seconds into a game in 2012.

The loss dropped the Spurs (45-34 overall and 14-25 on the road) into eighth place in the West, a half a game behind idle Oklahoma City in the loss column. After winning nine in a row, the Spurs have lost five of their past eight games.

The Nuggets (52-26) remain in second place in the West, two games behind Golden State with four games remaining.