It was an impressive run, but it wasn't going to last forever.
"We'll probably lay an egg here sometime," the veteran coach cautioned. "Everybody does after a while. You never know what night that will be."
It turned out to be Friday for the Spurs, whose streak came to an end with a 119-109 loss to the Detroit Pistons. San Antonio fell behind by 21 points in the second quarter, and Detroit held on thanks to Greg Monroe's 26 points and 16 rebounds.
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"They beat us to the boards, they beat us to loose balls and they just outplayed us. We're supposed to be good at defending at the 3-point line, but they sliced and diced us," Popovich said. "There are just nights you play like this."
The next concern for the Spurs was the massive snow storm affecting the New York-to-Boston corridor. They were expecting to stay in the Detroit area Friday night before trying to make it to Sunday night's game at Brooklyn.
San Antonio played without Duncan and Ginobili, and the Pistons equaled their highest score of the season. Detroit was without rookie big man Andre Drummond, who is expected to miss four to six weeks because of a stress fracture in his back.
"Obviously we feel very bad for Andre, but he's 19 and he'll recover," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "You move forward, we get him healthy, and you go with who you got."
Monroe, the Pistons' starting center, needed little help inside against the Spurs - and Detroit built a sizeable lead in the first half thanks to terrific outside shooting.
San Antonio trailed by 17 after three quarters. The Spurs cut it to 108-101 on a 3-pointer by Leonard, but Knight answered with a 3 of his own.
Later, the Spurs were down by eight with the ball, but Leonard missed and Villanueva made a 3-pointer to make it 116-105.
The Pistons led 27-16 late in the first quarter after Jose Calderon sank a 3-pointer. It was 31-23 after one, and Detroit went 6 of 9 from beyond the arc in the second.
Kyle Singler's 18-footer made it 65-44, but San Antonio scored the last eight points of the half to give itself a reasonable chance at a comeback.
It was 81-72 with 3:55 left in the third, and the Spurs looked like they would enter the final quarter very much within striking distance. But this time it was Detroit that finished the period strong, going on a 10-3 run to lead 95-78.
Monroe scored six points during that stretch. He ended up playing 40 minutes.
"Andre is out for a while now, so I expect I'll play a lot more minutes, but tonight was a good team win," Monroe said. "We beat a very good team tonight and we need to keep it rolling."
Duncan was shooting around on the court a couple hours before the opening tip, but he missed his second straight game with a sore left knee. Ginobili has missed three in a row with left hamstring tightness.
Duncan has played only twice in San Antonio's last nine games, but the Spurs were able keep winning anyway before falling into too big a hole Friday.
"They just shot the ball really well. They aren't known for being a great 3-point shooting team, but every time we'd get the game back to seven or eight points, they'd hit another one," Parker said. "They did that to us all night, and there wasn't anything we could do to stop them."
- Detroit went 10 of 22 from 3-point range. San Antonio was 10 of 24.
- Detroit also scored 119 points in a December loss to Atlanta, but that was in double overtime.