SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The Spurs almost ruined Gregg Popovich’s 69th birthday.
Popovich blew a fuse instead of candles at halftime after seeing a lack of effort from his veteran team.
Bryn Forbes scored a season-high 23 points and San Antonio overcame its sluggish second quarter for a 113-98 victory Sunday night over the Sacramento Kings, who saw coach Dave Joerger exit the game in the opening minutes after suffering a dizzy spell.
Popovich had a direct message to the Spurs at halftime during a second straight listless performance.
“Come ready,” Forbes said. “He kind of snapped on us at half, told us we weren’t ready, we had to pick it up. Our effort wasn’t great in the first half, he said.”
The Spurs outscored the Kings 64-48 from there, but it was the effort they put into the advantage that pleased Popovich.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Manu Ginobili each added 15 points in San Antonio’s 13th straight win over Sacramento. Dejounte Murray had 14 points and 10 assists, and Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“Second half I thought Bryn and Dejounte were great at both ends of the court and that’s the effort and the execution of doing your job that we need,” Popovich said. “They were great and other people followed.”
Joerger exited two minutes into the game after slapping his hands together after a non-call, taking two steps toward midcourt and then turning toward his bench and dropping to one knee. He braced himself with one hand on the court and another on a staff member before rising with the help of assistant Elston Turner.
Joerger was taken to the locker room and examined by a Spurs team doctor. A San Antonio official said Joerger was experiencing lightheadedness and was being kept in the locker room for precautionary reasons.
“He’s OK, he’ll be all right,” Turner said.
Joerger left with the team afterward. His status for Tuesday’s game in New Orleans is unknown.
De’Aaron Fox finished with 26 points and Vince Carter added 21 for Sacramento. The Kings finished 18 for 34 on 3-pointers.
Popovich left for the locker room with 1.4 seconds remaining in the first half even though Fox was shooting free throws.
He had cause to be upset. The Spurs scored only 20 points in the second quarter, two nights after setting several scoring lows in a 97-78 loss to Philadelphia.
“We had some bad lapses of plays offensively and defensively,” said guard Danny Green, who did not play in the second half. “Obviously, he wasn’t too happy about it and we weren’t happy about it, but had to make some changes in the second half.”
Popovich had a long talk at halftime, with most of the Spurs returning to the court with less than a minute remaining before the start of the third quarter. Popovich also sat starters Gasol, Green and Kyle Anderson in favor of Forbes, David Bertans and seldom-used Darrun Hilliard.
“Coach got on us, really tough,” Murray said. “We didn’t even get to get out and get any shots up. You know, so it was mainly a mental thing. The great thing about it is there’s two halves to basketball, so you know we had a bad first half and we got to make up for it in the second half.”
The Spurs responded by outscoring the Kings 30-19 in the third quarter.
Kings: Sacramento was without six players, including C Willie Cauley-Stein (bruised right knee bone and sprained left foot), G Garrett Temple (sprained right ankle) and F Skal Labissiere (sprained left shoulder). … Sacramento’s last win in San Antonio came on Jan. 20, 2012.
Spurs: Kawhi Leonard missed his 12th game as he continues to rehab his right quadriceps tendinopathy, but was in uniform and sitting on the bench for the second straight game. … Ginobili returned after a six-game absence due to a bruised right thigh. He played 25 minutes.
SING AND DANCE
The Spurs serenaded Popovich with their rendition of “Happy Birthday” following Sunday’s game.
“Did I lead the singing? No, no, I was backup dancer,” San Antonio veteran guard Patty Mills said. “I leave the singing to the singers. I know my scouting report, so I stick to that.”
Carter was happy to learn that he was one of the top five favorite players of Ginobili’s 3-year-old son, Luca. Ginobili is sixth on his son’s list.
“It’s pretty cool,” Carter said. “My kids are the same way, I’m not their favorite. I’m OK with that.”
ACHES AND PAINS
Ginobili said it took longer for him to heal than in previous seasons after missing six games with a bruised right thigh.
“Last year I felt like every bruise and every ache, I was recovering very fast,” he said. “This one is the first this season, and yeah, it took me a little longer. But I think the hit was harder than we all thought because it was a lot of blood in the area, so it took us time to get it out of there. So, we’ll see, hopefully it’s the first and last, so we won’t have to experiment anymore.”
Kings: At New Orleans on Tuesday night.
Spurs: Host Denver on Tuesday night.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.