The San Antonio Spurs will not be moving, says owner Peter J. Holt, staying in the city "por vida".

The Spurs moved from Dallas to San Antonio in 1973 and have remained there ever since, winning five NBA titles during Gregg Popovich's hugely successful tenure as coach.

However, fans have grown concerned by the latest rumours of potential relocation, ignited by the team's application to play two home games a season in Austin.

The Spurs reportedly defended the move, saying they want to expand their brand by hosting games at the Moody Center. Their G League team already play in Austin.

Holt sought to set the record straight on Tuesday, when the Spurs posted a statement from their owner on Twitter.

"Dear San Antonio," Holt wrote. "I love you. I love this city. A big city with a casual small-town feel and a great basketball team.

"I want to reassure you that the Spurs are in San Antonio to stay."

He added: "There are no Spurs without the city and the people of San Antonio. Your team, our team, together we are the silver and black.

"Spurs fans – we are here to stay. Por vida [for life]."

New Orleans Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum called Wednesday's play-in tournament win against the San Antonio Spurs "the start of something special".

McCollum has been the star of the Pelicans since arriving in a mid-season trade, and it was no different against the Spurs, netting a game-high 32 points to go with seven assists and six rebounds.

The former Lehigh University standout has been averaging 23.3 points and 6.0 assists since the All-Star break and helped propel the Pelicans into the play-in tournament despite starting the season 1-12 from their first 13 games.

Speaking with post-game media, McCollum said it feels like something great is brewing in New Orleans.

"This is the start of something special, for sure," he said. 

"You see the energy. Feel the energy. My mother is in town – I have some family in town – when we go out to eat, you can feel the city is excited about basketball, as they should [be]. 

"There's a lot of talent here. We're playing the game the right way. It's going to be a lot of winning in our future."

McCollum went on to talk about how seriously the Pelicans were taking this game with their season on the line.

"I understood the magnitude of this game," he said. 

"The Spurs are always going to go on a run at some point. They are well-coached. They execute. They have a lot of great players who can shoot and score. 

"When you get a chance to get up double digits, you have to put the pedal to the metal and try to be aggressive… I try to be more aggressive in the playoffs, try to get downhill a little bit more."

Pelicans head coach Willie Green had nothing but praise for his star shooting guard.

"We just got the ball to him, and he made play after play, score after score," he said. 

"The rest of the guys started to feed off C.J. – he's been in these moments, he's played on the big stage. 

"It's no coincidence that he goes out and has the game that he has."

The Atlanta Hawks avoided elimination from the NBA Play-In Tournament on Wednesday, comfortably defeating the Charlotte Hornets 132-103, despite a poor shooting night from Trae Young.

The Hawks shot 52.1 per cent collectively even with Trae Young's eight-of-24 from the floor, with all five starters scoring in double-digits along with Bogdan Bogdanovic from the bench, who added 13 points.

Young started slow with three-of-13, matching LaMelo Ball for the first half, but was able to find his teammates early, particularly getting easy buckets for Clint Capela out of high pick-and-roll action.

Finishing with 31 assists for the night, the Hawks moved the ball fluidly in comparison to the Hornets, who could not generate clean looks on the way to 37.8 per cent shooting from the floor and 22 assists collectively.

Ball and Terry Rozier shot a combined 15-of-47, while the former went four-of-14 from three-point range despite eight assists and five rebounds.

Atlanta will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers, with the winner earning a Playoff matchup against the Eastern Conference's first seed, the Miami Heat.

McCollum leads Pelicans past Spurs

C.J. McCollum was the star of the show as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the San Antonio Spurs 113-103 to earn a chance at the Western Conference eighth seed.

McCollum was on fire early, particularly in the second quarter, where he went a perfect six-for-six from the field to score 19 points in the period, on his way to final figures of 32 points (12-of-23 shooting), seven assists and six rebounds.

He was supported in style by Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas, who combined for 49 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists, while rookie defensive sensation Herb Jones had two steals and two blocks.

Jones also did a great job on Spurs All-Star Dejounte Murray, holding him to five-of-19 shooting for his 16 points.

With the win, the Pelicans will play the Los Angeles Clippers in a game where the victor will earn a seven-game series against the Phoenix Suns in round one of the Playoffs.

 

Whatever you think about the sporting merit of the introduction of the Play-In tournament to last year's NBA season, there is no doubt it made things more interesting for the neutral.

The Golden State Warriors were surprisingly eliminated after defeats to the Los Angeles Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, while the Indiana Pacers were denied a playoff place by the Washington Wizards in 2021.

The format has returned for this season, and again, it promises to add all sorts of further intrigue to the playoff picture.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the mini tournament will take place from April 12-16. The teams that finished seventh and eighth play one another to determine the seventh playoff seed from their respective conference, while the loser of that game gets a chance to secure the eighth seed when they host the winner of a game between the ninth and 10th seeds.

Therefore, the teams that finish seventh or eighth only need to win one game to advance to the playoffs, while those in ninth and 10th must win two.

Whoever clinches the seventh seed in the east will face the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, while the eighth seed will take on the Miami Heat. In the west, the seventh seed will go up against the Memphis Grizzlies, and the eighth seed will be paired with the Phoenix Suns.

With the regular season over after Sunday's final games, Stats Perform takes a look at the eight teams with one last chance to secure their place in the 2022 NBA playoffs.

Eastern Conference

Tuesday, April 12 – Brooklyn Nets (7th) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (8th) 

It has felt like a season of distractions in Brooklyn this season, be it James Harden's struggles, Kevin Durant's fitness or Kyrie Irving's vaccination status, and now the debut of Ben Simmons, which it seems may come in the playoffs, if they make it that is.

The Nets will be favourites, having won 12 of their last 17 and with Durant and Irving both in excellent form. KD is averaging 29.9 points per game (PPG), while Irving sits at 27.4.

The Cavaliers do not arrive in great form, losing eight of their last 11 games. Though they were victorious in their last outing against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, the Bucks rested their starters, and Jrue Holiday only started to earn a foul and trigger a financial clause in his contract.

Darius Garland will be key if Cleveland are to stand a chance at Barclays Center, with the 22-year-old averaging 21.7 PPG.

Brooklyn have won three of their four meetings this season, including a 118-107 win at Barclays on Friday.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 13 – Atlanta Hawks (9th) vs Charlotte Hornets (10th)

All eyes will be on Trae Young as the 23-year-old looks to drag the Hawks into the playoffs, though it will take two big performances, even by his high standards.

Young averages 28.4 PPG this season, the joint-fifth highest in the league along with Luka Doncic, as well as 9.7 assists per game.

Atlanta have won seven of their last nine, including a 130-114 success at the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

For Charlotte, they will look to trio Miles Bridges, LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier for inspiration, and have had a good end to the season themselves, winning 11 of their last 15.

They also beat the Hawks last month 116-106 in Charlotte, though each team has won two apiece of their four meetings through the campaign.

Western Conference:

Tuesday, April 12 – Minnesota Timberwolves (7th) vs Los Angeles Clippers (8th)

Despite the Timberwolves going into this one with home advantage, you would have to make the Clippers the favourites based on form and previous meetings.

Minnesota have lost six of their last 10, while the visitors arrive having won five of their last six.

The form of Karl-Anthony Towns, who is averaging 24.6 PPG this season, will be key for the hosts, as will that of Anthony Edwards, who scored a career-high 49 points in the recent win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Unsurprisingly, the Clippers have been a different prospect since the return of Paul George at the end of March, having lost eight of their previous 10 games before the 31-year-old came back, and winning six of seven since, albeit George only played in five of those games.

The Clippers have won three of their four meetings in the regular season, but the Timberwolves did win their last encounter in January. It should be noted that the team from Los Angeles won both games in Minnesota, though.

The loser will host the winner of...

Wednesday, April 13 – New Orleans Pelicans (9th) vs San Antonio Spurs (10th)

No team shows just how much the introduction of the Play-In tournament keeps seasons alive for a longer period than the Pelicans, who somehow have a shot at the postseason despite a disastrous start to their campaign.

Having lost 12 of their first 13 games, they are just two wins away from booking their place in the playoffs, and come into this one having won five of their last eight. 

Coach Willie Green will need CJ McCollum in top form, with the 30-year-old impressing since arriving from Portland earlier in the season, averaging 24.3 PPG since becoming a Pelican.

San Antonio recently won seven of eight games, but a slight wobble from the Spurs in the last few, losing their last three, may have thrown them off course at precisely the wrong time.

Like the Clippers, the Spurs could still be favourites despite being the away side, as they have won three of the four meetings between the two teams this season, including the most recent one in late March (107-103 in New Orleans).

The Boston Celtics secured the second seed in the Eastern Conference following their 139-110 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night, the regular-season finale for both teams.

With the second seed in the Western Conference already secured, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins rested a number of starters including Ja Morant, Steven Adams, Dillon Brooks and Jaren Jackson Jr. Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke were listed as questionable and while not ruled out, finished with DNPs.

Although the Celtics had a full complement in a game they needed to win, the weakened opposition did not cause tunnel vision, as they shared the ball to come up with 34 assists as a team.

Jayson Tatum came up with three of his own, along with 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting and nine rebounds to lead the way for the Celtics.

In an odd statistical quirk given the situation, the Grizz's John Konchar claimed the first triple-double of his career, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.

Dubs find their groove to clinch third seed

The Golden State Warriors clinched the third seed in the Western Conference with their 128-107 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Klay Thompson made seven three-pointers and scored 41 points for the Warriors, who have impressively managed to close out the season without Stephen Curry on a five-game winning streak.

While Jordan Poole's 22 points off seven-of-16 shooting lightened the load, Jonathan Kuminga again scored a critical 18 points off the bench and gave the team important balance.

Doncic strains calf in Mavs win

Luka Doncic strained his left calf in the Dallas Mavericks' 130-120 win over the San Antonio Spurs, putting the Slovenian star's status in question for the playoffs.

The two-time All-Star would not have been eligible for what was ultimately a meaningless game – following the Warriors win - if the NBA did not rescind his 16th technical foul of the season, which he earned in the previous game against the Portland Trailblazers.

Doncic led Dallas with 26 points, nine assists and eight rebounds but sat the second half, with his ability to play against the Utah Jazz in the playoffs now in doubt.

Joel Embiid made his closing statement for the MVP award and all but wrapped up the NBA scoring title in the Philadelphia 76ers' 133-120 win over the Indiana Pacers on Saturday.

Embiid put up monster numbers of 41 points, 20 rebounds and four assists, while going 14-of-17 from the floor and 11-of-15 from the free-throw line. It was the first time this NBA season that a player scored 40 points or more and had 20 or more rebounds in a game.

The 28-year-old is currently the league's scoring leader, averaging an astounding 30.6 points per game, just ahead of LeBron James' 30.3 and Kevin Durant's 30.1 points per game.

James Harden had 22 points and 14 assists for Philadelphia, who had a healthy spread of scorers with Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey both scoring 18 points, and Danny Green adding 15.

The Sixers remain in the hunt for the Eastern Conference's third seed with the win, moving to the same record as the Boston Celtics at 50-31, while the Milwaukee Bucks are second at 51-30.

A win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday combined with a Boston loss to the Memphis Grizzlies would move the Sixers into the third seed.

Morant makes timely return for Grizzlies

Ja Morant returned to action after a nine-game absence on Saturday night, as the Memphis Grizzlies secured a comfortable 141-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Morant finished with 21 points off seven-of-14 shooting, along with nine assists and four rebounds, while Jaren Jackson Jr. contributed a solid 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

The Grizzlies are set to finish second in the Western Conference, to face the winner of the 7-8 matchup in the play-in between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers.

Warriors continue winning run

The Golden State Warriors claimed their fourth consecutive victory despite an off shooting night from Jordan Poole, defeating the San Antonio Spurs on the road 100-94.

With Stephen Curry yet to return from injury and Klay Thompson rested, Poole had to take on more offensive responsibility and went three-of-19 from the floor in win.

A combined 30 points at nine-of-14 shooting off the bench from Jonathan Kuminga and Nemanja Bjelica was able to counteract it, along with 12 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists from Draymond Green.

Manu Ginobili will become a first-ballot inductee to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, according to The Athletic.

Ginobili, who retired following the 2017-18 season, spent his entire 16-season NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs, winning championships in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014.

While he was a regular starter through his first few seasons with the Spurs – starting all 74 of his appearances during their 2005 championship season – Ginobili thrived in the 'sixth man' role after his third title.

In the highest scoring season of his career, Ginobili won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award and was named to the All-NBA Third Team in 2008, averaging 19.5 points per game while primarily coming off the bench. 

He was also twice named an All-Star, in 2005, and in 2011, when he returned to the starting line-up for one season.

After 2011, Ginobili started just 10 of the 424 games he would play over the next seven seasons, but remained an all-important piece of the historic Spurs team to conquer LeBron James' Miami Heat in 2014.

As well as his NBA achievements, the Argentinian also collected a EuroLeague championship and EuroLeague Finals MVP in 2001 playing for Italian side Virtus Bologna, before eventually heading to the States.

He was also the best player on Argentina's 2004 Olympic team, which is the only team other than the United States to win Olympic gold since 1988.

Ginobili's jersey number has been retired by both the Spurs and the Argentine national team.

In what could be a Western Conference Finals preview, the Phoenix Suns came up big on the road with a 107-103 win over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

Between first and third in the West, there was a playoff atmosphere from the opening tip, and momentum swings throughout culminated with six lead changes in the final quarter.

Without the injured Stephen Curry, Jordan Poole put up 38 points on 11-of-21 shooting, but it was not enough as the Suns executed in the big moments.

Draymond Green tied the game with 2:21 remaining, converting a critical and-one after finishing through the contact from Jae Crowder.

The Warriors came up big defensively once again while in the bonus down the stretch, forcing a miss and foul from Devin Booker from the ensuing scramble for the rebound. Jordan Poole converted both from the line for a 101-100 lead with 39.8 seconds remaining.

Ultimately, Chris Paul managed to penetrate and collapse the defence in timely moments, adding eight assists to his 15 points, and all six of his field goals coming inside the arc.

Grizz secure second in the West

Meanwhile in the West, the Memphis Grizzlies secured the second seed on Wednesday, with a 112-11 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

With Ja Morant still watching on from the sidelines due to knee injury, Tyus Jones put up 25 points, while adding six assists and five rebounds.

While the Grizz clinched the second seed, the end to a four-game winning streak saw San Antonio fall half a game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the West's last play-in spot.

Heat fire up in Boston

The Miami Heat defeated on of their chief rivals for the Eastern Conference top seed, coming out with a big 106-98 road win over the Boston Celtics.

Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry combined for 47 points, while Bam Adebayo finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds to break a season-worst four-game losing streak.

Boston had their chance late trailing 102-98 but Jayson Tatum was called for an offensive foul and Marcus Smart was ejected in the fallout.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said his team needs to appreciate a decreased margin for error with Stephen Curry injured, after their 110-108 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

Curry is in a race to return to the court before the playoffs begin in April, and the Warriors felt his absence, getting out-shot from long range by the 28-44 Spurs, currently 11th in the Western Conference.

The Warriors have been undermanned all season with their big-man stocks as James Wiseman, the second pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, is yet to make his season debut.

Coach Kerr stressed this point, and pointed out that he did not feel like his team brought the requisite intensity before it was too late.

"We have to understand – and I told the guys this at half-time and after the game – that we're undermanned," he said.

"There's 11 games left now, and we're looking at the playoffs, and there's gotta be a sense of urgency. 

"There's gotta be a sense of competitive fight that we take to the other team from the very beginning of the game, and I did not see that until we were really late in the game.

"We were great in that fourth quarter, fighting like crazy, but we need to fight like crazy from the start."

Karl-Anthony Towns revealed he was just following coach Chris Finch's orders when he went out and hit 60 points in the Minnesota Timberwolves' win over the San Antonio Spurs.

While MVP rivals Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid collided in Philadelphia, Towns stole the spotlight with a stunning display, hitting a season-high points total in the Timberwolves' 149-139 triumph on Monday.

Towns' tally took him ahead of the efforts of Trae Young and LeBron James, who both scored 56 this season, while it was also a franchise record.

And the 26-year-old said he had asked Finch pre-game what was required of him, with the coach telling him to "go get 60".

He continued: "I told coach before the game, 'Hey listen, we need this win. I'll do whatever it takes. If I need to play 44, 48 minutes, I'll get it done.'

"That was kind of the mindset I came in [with]. I had to dominate. I had to be my best.

"So I just went out there, tried to be really aggressive."

Finch was understandably delighted with Towns' showing, with Gregg Popovich's Spurs unable to stop him.

"They were selling out to protect the rim with everything else we were trying to do," Finch said.

"He had the matchup, and they didn't have an answer for him. We definitely needed it, and he stepped up."

Popovich, who recently racked up a record 1,336th victory as a coach, also heaped praise on Towns.

"Karl was fantastic," Popovich said. "He drove it, he shot it. He always plays hard. He's a hell of a player. It's not like it was a surprise, but tonight he was special."

After reaching half-time with 24 points, Towns exploded into life after the break, scoring 32 of his side's 46 third-quarter points on his way to final shooting figures of 19-31 from the field, 7-11 from three and 15-16 from the line.

Towns, who is the first center to hit 60 points in a single NBA game since Shaquille O'Neal in March 2000, also grabbed a personal season-high of 17 rebounds.

He became the first player in the league's history to have 60 points, 60 per cent 3-point shooting and 15 rebounds in a single game, while only four centers had previously enjoyed a 60-point game.

On a day that saw MVP favourites Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic go head-to-head, it was fellow center Karl-Anthony Towns who stole the headlines.

Towns scored a career-high 60 points in the Minnesota Timberwolves' 149-139 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

It is the most points scored by any player in a single game this season, ahead of Trae Young and LeBron James, who both scored 56.

After reaching half-time with 24 points, Towns exploded into life after the break, scoring 32 of his side's 46 third-quarter points on his way to final shooting figures of 19-31 from the field, 7-11 from three and 15-16 from the line.

Towns, who is the first center to hit 60 points in a single NBA game since Shaquille O'Neal in March 2000, also grabbed a personal season-high of 17 rebounds, while on the other side Dejounte Murray was no slouch with 30 points and 12 assists, though it was not enough for the Spurs.

A barnstorming first half from the Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson set up a decisive 122-109 home victory against the reigning champions Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

Thompson started on fire, scoring 21 points (8-12 from the field, 5-8 from three), with three rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block as the Warriors went into the half-time leading 67-58.

In an interesting strategic decision, Milwaukee decided to face-guard Steph Curry all the way up to the half-court line when he did not have the ball.

It forced Curry into a decision, where he could either scratch and claw to try and play his usual game, or he could drag his defender out to near half-court, allowing his team-mates to play four-on-four with plenty of extra space.

Curry finished with only seven field goal attempts – his first game this season with less than 10 – but had eight assists, and opened up the game for Thompson and Jordan Poole to dominate.

Thompson finished with a season-high 38 points (15-24 from the field, 8-14 from three), while Poole collected an efficient 30 (9-16 from the field, 5-10 from three, 7-7 from the line).

It was also yet another glimpse of what the seventh overall pick of the 2021 NBA Draft, Jonathan Kuminga, could look like when he is fully formed as the 19-year-old scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, spending long periods of the game holding up defensively against Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo was the sole bright spot for Milwaukee, scoring 31 points (9-17 from the field, 12-18 from the line) to go with his eight rebounds. 

 

The outstanding coaching career of Gregg Popovich reached new heights with the San Antonio Spurs' victory over the Utah Jazz.

San Antonio's 104-102 triumph on Friday marked career win number 1,336 for Popovich, taking him past Don Nelson for the most by a coach in NBA history.

It is yet another remarkable achievement by one of the finest coaches to ever grace the NBA sideline.

In celebration of Popovich's latest accomplishment, here Stats Perform looks at five of the greatest feats of his career.

The first title

It might not have been the hardest Finals success of Popovich's career, but the first title in franchise history is always a memorable one, and he delivered that for the Spurs in 1999.

San Antonio earned the one seed in the Western Conference and the Spurs subsequently blitzed their way through the playoffs, losing only one game en route to the Finals.

And the fairytale New York Knicks, who had reached the Finals as the eighth seed in the East, proved no match for David Robinson, Tim Duncan and the Spurs.

Indeed, without the injured Patrick Ewing, the Knicks were overpowered and Avery Johnson's game-winning shot with 47 seconds left in Game 5 clinched a 4-1 series triumph for the Spurs, with Popovich able to celebrate his first title at the Mecca of basketball.

Kawhi holds off LeBron

Having tasted defeat to the Miami Heat in seven games a year earlier, Popovich and the Spurs pulled off the most impressive of their five NBA title wins in 2014 by getting revenge on Erik Spoelstra's star-studded team.

In what proved to be the final series of LeBron James' career with the Heat, the superior roster depth of the Spurs proved the difference against Miami's big three as they prevailed 4-1 over LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Co.

Having split the first two games in San Antonio, the Spurs swept their two games in South Florida and then wrapped things up as Kawhi Leonard's double-double inspired a 104-87 win in Game 5.

In large part for his defensive effort against James, Leonard was named Finals MVP. His field goal percentage of 61.2 was the highest by a Finals MVP until Giannis Antetokoumpo surpassed it in 2021 with 61.8 per cent.

Those 18 consecutive 50-win seasons

As his record-setting number of wins indicates, consistent success has defined Popovich's career with the Spurs, who comfortably hold the NBA record for most successive 50-win seasons.

From 1999-2000 to 2016-17, the Spurs won at least 50 games for 18 consecutive campaigns, the final year in that run among one of the most impressive as San Antonio racked up 61 victories while playing in a Western Conference featuring a Golden State Warriors team playing their first season with Kevin Durant.

The Spurs were swept by the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, though Game 1 suggested it would have been a much different series had Leonard not suffered an injury that ended his season.

San Antonio's 18-season run will take some beating, as the Los Angeles Lakers are next on the list with a 12-season run between 1979-80 and 1990-91.

Olympic gold

Popovich took over from Mike Krzyzewski as head coach of Team USA and met expectations by delivering the gold amid the strange backdrop of a pandemic Olympics at the delayed Tokyo 2020.

The USA recovered from an opening defeat to France to once again take the gold, avenging the loss to Les Bleus with an 87-82 win over the same opposition in the final.

After a build-up to the Games in which many questions were raised about the strength in depth of the USA team and a poor start to the competition, the hard-fought triumph added further gloss to the CV of a coach many consider to be the greatest of all time.

The record win

The 2021-22 season has not been one to remember for the Spurs, but a surprise defeat of the Jazz at least gave Popovich a memorable moment in a trying campaign.

San Antonio trailed 74-64 going into the final quarter, but the Spurs racked up 40 across the final frame to improve their record to 26-41 and, more importantly, secure history for their coach, Dejounte Murray the star of the show with 27 for the game.

"Basketball is a team sport," Popovich said afterwards. "All of us share in this record. It's not mine. It's ours."

With Popovich's NBA career showing no signs of imminently coming to an end, he should have plenty of opportunities to extend his lead at the top of the all-time standings and make his record extremely difficult to beat.

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