THERE WAS a familiar face on the San Antonio bench and the usual result on the scoreboard.
With coach Gregg Popovich guiding his defending champions again after a two-game absence, the visiting Spurs beat the Boston Celtics, 111-89, yesterday for their seventh straight win.
San Antonio (12-4) takes on the 0-16 Sixers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
"There's a comfort zone there having him at the helm," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said of Popovich. "Good to have him out there and good to hear his voice."
The Spurs won both games under assistant Ettore Messina while Popovich was out because of an undisclosed minor medical procedure.
Popovich was happy to be back coaching, especially after his team outscored the Celtics 66-40 in the second half after trailing 49-45.
"I don't know what else I would do," he said.
The Spurs were led by Danny Green with 18 points, Boris Diaw with 15 and Duncan with 14.
The Celtics were led by Jeff Green with 16 points and Evan Turner with 12.
In other games
* At Sacramento, Zach Randolph had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 18 points and six rebounds and the Memphis Grizzlies held off a late rally to beat the shorthanded Kings, 97-85, for their fifth straight win.
The frontcourt tandem took advantage of a Kings team playing without center DeMarcus Cousins, who missed his second straight game because of a virus.
* At Auburn Hills, Mich., Draymond Green scored 20 points and Stephen Curry added 16 points and 10 assists as the Golden State Warriors beat the Detroit Pistons, 104-93, for their ninth straight victory.
Marreese Speights added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Warriors (14-2).
* At Brooklyn, Jimmy Butler had 26 points and Pau Gasol had 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 102-84 win over the Nets.
Bulls center Joakim Noah said that Nets forward Kevin Garnett tried to bite his fingers - in jest - during the game.
"Kevin Garnett tried to bite me, man. It's unbelievable," said Noah. "I don't even know what to say."
Garnett laughed about it in the locker room. "I know how to bite somebody," he said. "Obviously I was messing around in that moment. If I wanted to bite him, I'd have just . . . shout out to Mike Tyson."
* At New York, Dwyane Wade returned from a seven-game absence due to a hamstring injury to score 27 points - 13 in the fourth quarter - as the Miami Heat defeated the Knicks, 86-79. Chris Bosh added 20 for the Heat, including a crucial three-pointer with 1:07 left. The Knicks' Carmelo Anthony returned after a two-game absence because of back spasms to score 31.
* At Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 15 rebounds to pace the Trail Blazers in a 107-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
* At Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant (31 points) became the first player in NBA history with 30,000 points and 6,000 assists as the Lakers defeated Toronto, 129-122, in overtime.
* At Phoenix, Tobias Harris scored 21 points and the Orlando Magic held off a late rally to beat the Suns, 93-90, and snap a four-game losing streak. Goran Dragic scored 22 points and Markieff Morris had 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Suns.
* Cleveland claimed guard A.J. Price off waivers from Indiana. Price was with the Cavaliers during training camp and the exhibition season before being waived on Nov. 1. The 6-year veteran appeared in 10 games for the Pacers, averaging 10.5 points in 19 minutes. To make room for Price, the Cavs waived guard Will Cherry.
* New Orleans waived forwards Darius Miller and forward Patric Young.