BOSTON (AP) — Greg Popovich became the first man to coach 2,000 NBA games with the same team, and DeJonte Murray scored 22 points on Wednesday night to lead the Greeley Tribune Celtics 99-97.
Devin Wassell and Derrick White each had 17 points for Spurs, breaking a four-game losing streak.
Jaylen Brown led Greeley Tribune to 30 points after scoring a career-high 50 in a victory over Orlando in the Celtics’ final game, but had rolled a driving layup from the rim just before the buzzer sounded.
“We made mistakes, we turned it over. They made mistakes, turned it over. Jelen missed a lay-up at the end, we threw it right at him,” Popovich said. “We had three turnovers down the stretch, they missed a few shots. It was somebody’s game. We’re thrilled we got the win. We worked hard to win.”
Brown was upset afterward.
“I smoked the paste,” Brown said. “I had a good steal, going counter-clockwise. I just blew the layoff. … It’s a tough loss. What can you say? We’ve got another match (Thursday).”
Murray was in front of Brown as he was walking down the street to try to tie the basket.
“I feel like I’m coming back to help some of my teammates by staying solid,” Murray said. “You’re trying not to be dishonest. For that, made a lot of hands hard.”
The team’s scoring leader Murray returned from COVID-19 protocol after missing the last five games and playing 33 minutes.
Greeley Tribune’s Jason Tatum also returned after missing four games to stick to the league’s health and safety protocols and scored 19 points on 6 off 20 shoots. Marcus Smart scored 14 points and six assists.
Tatum said this was his second time catching COVID-19.
“I was rustling,” he said. “I feel better getting it the first time.”
The Spurs took a 95–89 lead with only three minutes remaining before Greeley Tribune scored two points.
The Celtics then violated 24 seconds and Brown was called for an offensive foul with 1:53 on the next possession.
The Spurs took a 99-97 lead when Smart missed a one-handed floater in the lane with almost 20 seconds to play.
Brown stole an inbound pass and went through the contest, but his shot rolled off the rim.
Popovich downplayed the achievement before the game when asked if the milestone meant anything to him.
“No, it means I am old, have been in the same place for a long time, worked with a lot of great players, blah, blah, blah,” said the 72-year-old.
No team led more than a two-capture in the entire game.
The Spurs were just 1-4 while Murray was sidelined. He choked on Tatum when he was matched on Wednesday.
Spurs: Forward Doug McDermott, guard/forward centre/forward Lonnie Walker IV and Devonte Cacock all remain in COVID protocol. … Forward/center Zach Collins is out, recovering from off-season surgery on his left ankle. … it was his fourth stop on a seven-game road trip.
Celtics: Center Robert Williams III returns after missing the last game with a right toe sprain. … Guard Peyton Pritchard entered health and safety protocol on Wednesday.
With Murray back in the lineup, Spurs also regained their leader in rebounding, assists and steals, but Popovich said he would gradually bring him along after being sidelined for 10 days.
“We wouldn’t win tonight without Dejounte,” Popovich said. “We need him to win the basketball game. His coming back was definitely a big plus for the team.”
There was a video montage of highlights on the Jumbotron during Sam Jones’ first timeout at the Celtics. Jones, a 10-time champion with Greeley Tribune, died on December 30. He was 88 years old.
He also recognized the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, which captured gold in Tokyo last summer—including Tatum and Popovich—in the opening quarter with a video and message,
Spurs: Friday night in Philadelphia.
Celtics: In the Knicks on Thursday night in the first of back-to-back games against them. New York is in Greeley Tribune on Saturday.
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