Spurs’ Popovich fires back at Suns owner Sarver

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich fires back at Suns owner Robert Sarver's in-game comments from Thursday night's game in Phoenix.  

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Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver called out the San Antonio Spurs’ lack of star power during Thursday’s preseason game, telling fans it wasn’t "the game you paid your hard-earned money to watch."

Saturday, Popovich fired back about the in-game announcement made by Sarver over the public address microphone during the Spurs’ 121-90 loss.

"The only thing that surprises me is that he didn’t say it in a chicken suit. I’ll just leave it at that," Popovich said Saturday.

"As I said, the silliness begins. Most wise individuals would check facts before they made statements; unless you’re interested in putting on a show. In that case, the facts get in your way, as in this case."

Prompting the call-out, the Spurs were without several players — as well as Popovich himself — Thursday in Phoenix after a two-week trip through Europe.

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili remained home to rest, while Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Patty Mills nursed minor injuries.

Popovich noted the absences were excusable despite Sarver’s feelings.

"We had five guys we didn’t send," Popovich told the San Antonio Express-News. "Patty Mills had a shoulder operation over the summer. Tiago Splitter has been out the whole preseason. Kawhi Leonard was out and is still out for 10 more days. The other two, Duncan and Ginobili, are two of the oldest guys in the league who just came back from a 13-day European trip."

While the Spurs have had a recent history of sitting players during "big games" — most notably during a nationally televised game in Miami against the Heat in 2012 where several stars were sent home to rest resulting in the team being fined $250,000 — a weeknight preseason game should hardly need an apology from an opposing owner due to the reduced roster of an opponent.

Follow Shawn Ramsey on Twitter: @ShawnPRamsey