Sochan, Vassell lead Spurs past Pacers in Popovich's absence
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jeremy Sochan had 22 points and 13 rebounds for his first career double-double and San Antonio defeated the Indiana Pacers 110-99 Thursday night while Spurs coach Gregg Popovich out because of an illness.
Devin Vassell scored 18 points for the Spurs in his return after missing 25 games following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He shot 8 for 15 in his first game since Jan. 2.
Popovich and lead assistant Brett Brown were out with non-COVID-19 illnesses. Popovich is expected to return for Saturday’s home game against Houston.
Spurs assistant Mitch Johnson collected his first victory in Popovich’s absence. San Antonio has won two straight after dropping a franchise-record 16 in a row.
Devonte’ Graham and Zach Collins also had 18 points each for the Spurs.
Buddy Hield had 27 points to lead the Pacers and Chris Duarte had 18.
The Spurs are a much different team than the one that last played at the AT&T Center on Feb. 3 before embarking on their annual Rodeo Road Trip.
Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson were traded, Stanley Johnson was released and injuries continue to pile up. Keldon Johnson, Romeo Langford, Khem Birch and Isaiah Roby all missed this game and Doug McDermott did not return after spraining his right thumb in the second quarter.
Despite all that upheaval, San Antonio found a way to beat an Indiana team that had won two straight and three of four.
The Spurs opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 63-54 lead. San Antonio led by 17 in the fourth quarter.
Pacers: Indiana had won six straight in San Antonio since its previous defeat on March 1, 2017. … Former Spurs guard George Hill received a loud ovation when he was announced in the starting lineup.
Spurs: San Antonio honored former owner Red McCombs prior to the game. McCombs died Feb. 19 after a lengthy illness. He was part of the original ownership group that brought the then-ABA franchise to San Antonio from Dallas. The Spurs will wear a red patch with McCombs’ initials on the left strap of their jerseys in tribute. … The Spurs are 4-23 in 2023, including the 16-game losing streak.
Pacers: At Chicago on Sunday.
Spurs: Host Houston on Saturday.
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Raul Dominguez, The Associated Press