Spurs news and notes: Popovich, the Hornets, and more

• NBA.com talks about San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich being the perfect example of a true Coach of the Year:

More than any of the other annual awards, Coach of the Year always seems to honor the surprises over the superlatives. It is the one category that tends to say more about the voters than the candidates themselves.

How else can you explain Phil Jackson with 11 championship rings and just one Coach of the Year trophy?Isn’t winning the most games what it’s all about? So shouldn’t the achievement of excellence carry more weight than exceeding our expectations?

Then there are the instances when those two lines on the graph converge to deliver the best of both worlds. That’s why the pick for 2011 is Gregg Popovich.

• The New Orleans Hornets clinched a playoff spot but will they face the Spurs is still to be determined:

With four games remaining in the regular season, the New Orleans Hornets could fall anywhere from landing the fifth seed to having to face the San Antonio Spurs as the eighth seed in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. (nola.com)

• Foxsports.com says Gary Neal was a huge surprise this season while Richard Jefferson met expectations:

Did anybody know who Gary Neal was before the season? Neal, a friend of Anthony’s since childhood, played for the San Antonio Spurs’ summer league team after spending a few seasons in Europe. He made shots for the Spurs out in Las Vegas and was rewarded with a two-year deal worth $1.2 million. What a bargain. He has averaged 10 points and made 42 percent of his 3-point shots, helping the Spurs run off with the league’s top record.

Richard Jefferson had a bad year in San Antonio last season, failing to adjust to Gregg Popovich’s system. Then he looked foolish by opting out of his final season of his contract, at $15 million. But he re-signed for $27 million with the Spurs and has had his best season since he played with Jason Kidd in New Jersey, averaging 11 ppg on 48 percent shooting.

• DrJays.com aks which team was the bigger surprise, the Spurs or the Chicago Bulls.

• Former Spur Antonio Daniels talks about returning to the NBA and playing for the Philadelphia 76ers:

Daniels has 80 games of playoff experience. The other 14 players on the Sixers have combined for 160 games of playoff experience.”That’s what we talked about,” Daniels said upon signing. “Just bringing that experience, that veteran leadership.”

“Mentally, I never left,” Daniels said. “Physically, I obviously wasn’t there.”Sixers coach Doug Collins said at the very least, Daniels can help the development of Jrue Holiday, the Sixers’ 20-year-old point guard. (courierpostonline.com)

• Spurs’ George Hill voices his pick for the new IUPUI basketball coach:

San Antonio Spurs guard George Hill believes his alma mater has a clear choice as it’s new basketball coach: Todd Howard.

The only NBA player IUPUI has ever produced emphatically endorsed Howard, a long-time Jaguars assistant, to replace Ron Hunter.

“It’s crazy they’re even going through a search,” Hill said in a telephone interview with The Indianapolis Star. “You have a guy that spent his time there behind coach Hunter for 16 years, a guy who could have gone other places, but stuck with everyone there, made his career there, is dedicated to the program. To go out and talk to other coaches is a slap in the face.” (mydesert.com)

• Express News’ Tim Griffin shares the quotes the Spurs’ media services hands out after the Spurs-Sacramento Kings game.

• Tasmin Mitchell of the D-League’s Erie Bayhawks is compared to former Spur Bruce Bowen by Bayhawks head coach Jay Larranaga:

Larranaga compares Mitchell to former NBA player Bruce Bowen, who helped the San Antonio Spurs win three NBA titles by playing defense and nailing clutch 3-point field goals from the corner. (goerie.com)

• Playmakeronline.com chimes in about the Spurs.

• Pounding the Rock recaps the Spurs win over the Kings.

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