This time, the Spurs rebounded to eat the Miami Heat's lunch, bettering the visitors 112-88 on Wednesday behind strong performances from the bench and forward Kawhi Leonard, who matched a career high with 32 points in just 2½ quarters of action.
The Spurs sent Leonard back to the locker room in the third quarter because of a right thigh contusion and declared him out for the game. The injury shouldn't keep Leonard out long and doesn't appear to be serious.
Leonard's performance and the contribution from the bench are another matter, though.
"Did I say out to lunch?" Popovich joked. "No, they played very well; great team defense tonight, good concentration, [the] ball moved well. They did a good job."
Led by a combined 31 points from rookie Boban Marjanovic, who scored 19 points, and Kevin Martin (12 points), San Antonio's bench contributed 54 points to the victory. By comparison, Miami's starting group combined for 36 points, and its bench provided nearly 60 percent of the Heat's scoring (52 points).
"I don't even know really where to start," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It was both ends of the court. Kawhi Leonard was fantastic tonight. Whenever he needed to make a play, he was making a play. At the beginning of the third quarter, he really set the tone for their offense. On the other end, we couldn't manufacture any kind of rhythm. The turnovers and quick shots got us in trouble, and then you look up and boom: two timeouts later, and it's already over a 20-point game."
Leonard racked up 24 points in the first half, scoring 10 points in the first quarter on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range. He initially suffered the thigh injury in the second quarter, taking a knee from Amar'e Stoudemire, but returned after intermission to light up Miami for eight more points. Leonard knocked down a cutting layup off an assist from Tim Duncan with 6:01 to play in the third quarter and injured the thigh again during the play when he was fouled by Justise Winslow.
Leonard clutched his right knee at the free throw line before sinking the attempt and leaving the game -- having played only 24 minutes -- as the Spurs subbed in Manu Ginobili.
"He was very aggressive tonight," said point guard Tony Parker, who finished with five points and five assists. "It was impressive. He was rolling. He was feeling it; shooting the ball well. He was just being super aggressive."
Leonard finished as the lone double-figure scorer among San Antonio's starters. Two more double-figure contributors came off the bench in new addition Martin and Marjanovic, who on Sunday had lit it up in the NBA Development League, scoring 21 points to go with 15 rebounds for the Austin Spurs.
Four days later, Marjanovic scored a season-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go with four rebounds.
"He's one of the most selfish players I've ever been around," Popovich joked. "He shot it every time he touched it. He should apologize to his teammates for being so greedy. He just wanted to get his name in the paper."
Marjanovic certainly did that.
"This just happened tonight. I feel great," Marjanovic said. "The game I played in Austin on Sunday helped me to feel confidence in myself. Of course, [playing] minutes helped me and this happened tonight. This is amazing. This is like adrenaline. You're called and you hear the fans [cheering]. I feel great; warms my heart."
Martin signed with the Spurs on March 9, but after Monday's loss in Charlotte, the guard "felt like my honeymoon period was over," which in turn forced him to study "the playbook a little more."
"Before I got here, we talked about taking it slow and getting me up to speed on the plays and things like that," Martin said. "But over the past week or so, we've kicked it into a little higher gear."
That's probably what needed to transpire, as the Spurs will depend heavily on Martin and the rest of the bench as the regular season comes to a close and the postseason approaches.
Against Charlotte, San Antonio's bench contributed only 18 points, a mark equaled or eclipsed individually by two starters in Parker (19 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points).
With the victory over Miami, the Spurs became only the seventh team in NBA history to reach 60 victories through 71 games. The Spurs now hold a 36-0 mark at home, which ranks as the second-best start at home in NBA history. Overall, the Spurs have won 45 in a row at home dating to last season, which ranks as No. 2 all time.
The Spurs are now tied with the Chicago Bulls for the third-most 60-win seasons in NBA history (six).
"It was a good bounce-back game for us," Parker said. "It was a great win, great effort. We had a tough loss last game. We ran out of gas. Tonight, we got our energy back."