New York Post

Popovich: Nothing hurts Spurs

- By BRIAN LEWIS

SAN ANTONIO — Coach Gregg Popovich was his usual entertaini­ng self before the Spurs’s 109-97 win over the Nets, touching on a wide array of topics and spreading equal parts salt and pearls of wisdom on topics from giving back to President Donald Trump.

Though the Spurs got back both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, they have been riddled by injuries. When asked how they managed to get along despite being shorthande­d, Popovich shrugged off the question.

“It’s basketball. It’s not the Middle East peace process. It’s not figuring ou why our democracy is being eroded,” said Popovich, a noted critic of President Trump’s policies. “It’s pick-and-roll. Big deal.”

Popovich has been noted for his contributi­ons to charity — including the Champions Against Hunger charity dinner — and in the spirit of Christmas he was asked why he felt so strongly about giving back.

“Because we’re rich as hell, we don’t need it all, some other people need it and you’re an ass if you don’t give it,” Popovich said.

Nets coach Kenny Atkinson reiterated that GM Sean Marks’ timetable for the returns of D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor still stands, and both players are “improving and getting better.”

Marks had said last Wednesday Russell would need seven or eight weeks to recover from Nov. 17 knee surgery, putting a return somewhere between Jan. 5-12. Marks had added Okafor could be fit in 1 ½-to-2 weeks, which would fall during the homestand that starts on New Year’s Day.

Rookie Jarrett Allen grew up in nearby Austin and starred at Texas, played in front of his parents. After Atkinson had challenged him to improve his rebounding, he went out and had a dozen points and a career-high nine boards.

“We need more. His rebound rate is not high enough. Some of that’s strength, but some of its ‘ go get that thing.’ He’s got to rebound better,” Atkinson said before the game. “And he’s agile enough, long enough to rebound outside his area, too. The scrum ones are tough right now because of the physicalit­y of older players; but the ones out of his area, we need more energy from him on the defensive and offensive boards.”

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