New Orleans Pelicans coach Monty Williams played for the Spurs, won an NBA title with the franchise as a coaching intern in 2005 and has coached against the Silver and Black for nine seasons.
That's why his pregame comments about the Spurs before they played the Pelicans on Saturday night at the AT&T Center were noteworthy.
I don't think I've seen any NBA team playing at such a high level all year long, Williams said. From Indiana, OKC (Oklahoma City), Miami, Chicago, you name it. From the ball movement, to team defense, scoring inside, scoring outside, bench play, guard play, they've got it all working.
It doesn't matter which lineup. I haven't followed then from the last game that we played until now, but I know the last four or five games I've seen, it's eye-opening to see a team play at a high level the way they've played the last few games.
The Spurs (57-16) have the best record in the NBA withnine regular-season games left on their schedule. They beat the Pelicans 96-80 on Saturday for their 17thstraight win, tying the franchise record for consecutive regular-season victories.
The Silver and Black won 17 games in a row from Feb. 29 to March 31, 1996, when Williams played in 17 games as a reserve late in the season.
San Antonio's current streak started with a 120-110 win against Detroit on Feb. 26. The Spurs went 4-0 against New Orleans (32-41) this season.
Williams, who is in his fourth season as head coach in New Orleans, chuckled when he was told that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is getting more antsy with each every victory.
He can do whatever he wants to give it up tonight, Williams said. I'll take it. I understand where he's coming from, though, because when I played for Pop and having coached under him, it's hard to teach the way you want to teach when you win so many games. I know that sounds crazy, but it's human nature to just kind of float when you start winning. But I think they have the experience and the locker room to handle it.
It starts with Tim (Duncan). I know exactly what he's (Popovich) is talking about because I played under him and coached under him, and we've had winning streaks. He has the ability to get your attention in any situation, but especially after a tough loss.
Williams: Spurs 'diligently work on it every single day'
Williams frowned when he was asked if he thinks Popovich has done one of the best coaching jobs of his long career this season, considering the rash of injuries the team had at midseason.
I don't know, man, Williams said. You guys figure that stuff out. What do I look like, the Nielsen Ratings? He's the best coach we've seen -- ever. I don't try to grade him. It's kind of silly. I'm sure he thinks the same thing.
Williams rolled his eyes when he asked why he thinks the Spurs have been so successful for so long.
Tim Duncan, R.C. (Buford, general manager), they bring in the right players to fit their style, Williams said. They have the best power forward to ever play the game. They have consistency. They've got a great coach. They have it all here. Great GM. They diligently work on it every single day.
If I take anything away from it, it's the day in and day out. You just don't take any days off. Even when you take a day off, you don't take a day off. They constantly go after it. It's just the best program I've ever been around. I'm blessed to have been a part of it. I learned a lot from it.
Williams, who played at Notre Dame collegiately, was selected by the New York Knicks in the first round of the 1994 NBA draft. He went to the Spurs in 1996, and played in San Antonio until going to Denver in 1998.He and Duncan, who was the NBA's No. 1 overall pick in 1997, played together for one season.
Williams was an intern on the Spurs' coaching staff in 2004-05, when the franchise won its third NBA championship. He was an assistant coach with the PortlandTrail Blazers for five seasons beforebecomingNewOrleans' coach in June 2010.