Becky Hammon makes NBA history: 5 takeaways from Lakers vs. Spurs

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon draws up a play during a timeout.
San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon draws up a play during a timeout while assuming head coaching duties during Wednesday’s game.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)
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LeBron James appreciates the history of the game as much as anyone, and so on a night when he reached yet another NBA milestone, he gave a shout-out to Becky Hammon for the history she made in becoming the first woman to act as the head coach during an NBA regular-season game.

Hammon is an assistant coach with the Spurs, but she took over the head-coaching duties after Gregg Popovich was ejected from the first half of San Antonio’s 121-107 defeat to the Lakers on Wednesday night.

James had scored 26 points, which meant that he had scored at least 10 points in 1,000 consecutive games, something no other NBA player had ever done.


But even James could appreciate what Hammon had accomplished on his special night.

“Well, she’s been putting in the work, and any time you put in the work you get rewarded with opportunities,” James said on Zoom. “And obviously she’s been paying her dues over the last few years and coach Pop has given her the opportunity to first of all be the coach of the summer league team. She got going with that, and then being the interim head coach if anything ever happened to Pop. Tonight was a case where she got to step in and show her work, show her talents and her love for the game. And obviously what she did as a player, first of all, we all know that. So, her mind was able to transfer to our league and she’s been great ever since she got in. It’s a beautiful thing just to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets and she’s very passionate about the game. So, congrats to her and congrats to the league.”

LeBron James becomes the first player to score at least 10 points in 1,000 consecutive NBA games in the Lakers’ victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Dec. 30, 2020

Starting with Hammon, here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ win over the Spurs on LeBron James’ historical night.

1. With three minutes, 56 seconds left in the second quarter, the sporting world shifted.

It was that moment when Popovich was tossed from the game and when Hammon moved over to the head seat as the acting head coach for her boss.

She stood up and took control of the Spurs, looking very confident.

After the game, Hammon understood the significance.

Highlights from the Lakers’ win over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

“Obviously, it’s a big deal. It’s a substantial moment,” she said on a videoconference. “I’ve been a part of this organization, I got traded here in 2007, so I’ve been in San Antonio and part of the Spurs and sports organization with the Stars and everything for 13 years. So, I have a lot of time invested and they have a lot of time invested in me in building me and getting me better. Honestly, in the moment, I was just trying to win the game. I say this a lot, but I try not to think about the huge picture and the huge aspect of it because it can get overwhelming. It’s my job to go in there and be focused for those guys and make sure that I’m helping them do the things that will help us win. I really have not had time to reflect. I have not looked at my phone so I have no idea what’s going on outside of AT&T Center tonight.”

Hammon explained how she was officially chosen by Popovich to take over for him. “He officially pointed at me,” she said. “That was it. … That was it. Said, ‘You got ‘em,’ and that was it. Very Pop-like. See? You guys don’t get treated any different than we do.”


Becky Hammon took over head-coaching responsibilities for the San Antonio Spurs against the Lakers on Wednesday after coach Gregg Popovich was ejected.

Dec. 30, 2020

2. It has been a very slow start to the season offensively for Wesley Matthews, his outside shot nowhere to be found. In his first four games for the Lakers, Matthews had missed all eight of his three-point attempts. He more than made up for that against the Spurs, making all six of his three-point attempts. Matthews joined the great Kobe Bryant, who went seven-for-seven on three-pointers on Jan. 6, 2006, and Nick Van Exel, who went six-for-six on Nov. 11, 1997, as the only Lakers to make at least six three-pointers without a miss.

3. The Lakers’ 56.1% shooting from the field against the Spurs is the best shooting percentage in the NBA so far this season. The Lakers went 46-for-82 from the field. In all three games they have won, the Lakers have made at least 50% of their shots.

4. The Lakers turned the ball over 17 times, five by Dennis Schroder and four by Marc Gasol.

5. For the first time this season, Talen Horton-Tucker didn’t get in the game for the Lakers. He had averaged 12 minutes per game in his first four games, and 7.3 points.