RAUL DOMINGUEZ, The Associated Press
San Antonio (AP) – Becky Hammon became the first woman to direct an NBA team, taking on coach Greg Popovich to handle the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night following a 121–107 loss to LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
James celebrated his 36th birthday with 26 points, eight assists and five rebellions in the Lakers’ third double-digit victory. The teams will compete in a two-match set on Friday night.
Popovich was outscored by official Tony Brown with 3:56 remaining in the second quarter. Popovich shouted at Brown and entered the court after an attempted layup by DeMar DeRozan and a subsequent rebound by Drew Eubank. Popovich was praised as he exited the court based on the presence of several members of the team.
Hamon took over the team’s huddles during the timeout and moved to the sideline following Popovich’s rejection. Hamann was the first full-time female assistant coach in league history.
Tim Duncan took over last season when Popovich was fired against Portland on November 16, 2019. The Hall of Famer opted not to return as an assistant this season.
A three-time All-American at Colorado State, Hamann played for the New York Liberty and San Antonio Stars at the WNBA before retiring to join Popovich’s staff in 2014.
The Lakers contributed to Popovich’s frustration, and the Spurs’ fortunes were no better after the exit of the veteran coach.
Dennis Schroder had 21 points, Anthony Davis had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers. Wesley Matthews took 6 for 6 on 3-pointers, 18 points off the bench.
The Spurs opened the game at 9-2, including a two-handed slam uncontested drive through the lane by Claedon Johnson. The Lakers responded with an 11–0 run that promoted a timeout by Popovich.
The Lakers took their first double-digit lead to 35-25 with 1:14 remaining on Kyle Kuzma’s 3-pointer with 1 remaining in the first quarter.
DeJounte Murray had 29 points, seven assists and seven rebounds and DeRozan added 23 for the Spurs, who lost their second straight after opening the season with two consecutive wins.
Lakers: PG Alex Caruso recalled the game for “health and safety protocol” as mandated by the league. Lakers coach Frank Vogel did not elaborate on Caruso’s situation. … James was listed as a suspect on Monday after a sprain in his left ankle in the Lakers’ 115-107 loss in Portland. James played 35 minutes against the Spurs, scoring 29 points in 36 minutes against the Trails Blazers.
Spurs: Popovich said that Spurs will monitor Aldridge’s knee soreness on a day to day basis.
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