Watching his team make one mistake after another at the defensive end already was difficult for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in the first half of what became a 119-113 Spurs victory Saturday night at the AT&T Center.

When referee Ed Malloy called a charge on Spurs forward Boris Diaw after what Popovich believed to be a flop by Cleveland defender Luke Walton, it was more than he could handle.

Striding almost to midcourt to let Malloy know what he thought of the call, Popovich got two quick technical fouls and an ejection from the game.

As he exited to an ovation from the sellout crowd, Popovich knew his team was in capable hands. When assistant Mike Budenholzer took over on the bench, he brought home the 898th victory of his boss’ career.

It was the fourth game this season in which Budenholzer did the bulk of the coaching, and he has yet to explain a loss. He was 3-0 when Popovich missed time with an illness.

“If I disappeared in the next 20 minutes, you’d never know I was gone because he’ll do a hell of a job,” Popovich said. “Bud knows his stuff. He’s good. When he decides he wants to be, he’ll be a head coach in the league.”

Spurs captain Tim Duncan said Budenholzer has the full confidence of every Spurs player.

“It’s been this way for years,” he said. “Bud knows what he’s doing. He’s done a great job. He’s comfortable in that position now. Nothing changes. We know what we have to do. He called a good game for us.”