Assistant coach Brett Brown, the former longtime coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, filled in for Popovich.
“At this stage, I don’t have a lot of details,” Brown said after the game. “The doctors have checked him out, and we’ve been advised that he’s fine.”
Popovich, 73, spoke to reporters about an hour and a half before tipoff, but he was ruled out sometime thereafter.
Brown said he didn’t find out that he would be taking the reins until “20 seconds” before tipoff. San Antonio came into the night with an overall record of 6-11 but had lost nine of its previous 10 games.
Despite his team’s struggles, the NBA’s all-time leader in coaching wins offered a positive perspective.
“It’s about values and goals, that’s how you get through it,” Popovich said. “And beyond that, you kind of slap yourself: It’s really a tough life. I can’t pay my electric bill, the players can’t pay their gas bills and gas is too expensive for them to buy. C’mon, give me a break. This is the greatest job in the world, so if you complain, you’re an idiot.”
Lakers coach Darvin Ham, who has had several players on his team miss time this season because of illnesses said, “These bugs, they’re not predictable.”
The first-year coach added a bit of deference for Popovich, now in his 27th season roaming the sidelines.
“It’s unfortunate that he got sick,” Ham said, “but even if he didn’t, Pop’s earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants to do.”
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.