Gregg Popovich was back at work Tuesday, rested and well after a respiratory illness had rendered him couch-bound for the past three games.

That the Spurs went 3-0 with the NBA's active wins leader watching from home, and with All-Star big man Tim Duncan out with left knee soreness to boot, stood as testament to the value of the team's system above all else.

It also begged the question: If the team's Hall of Fame-bound coach and power forward aren't all that necessary, then who is?

"For a short period, we can do it without them," said point guard Tony Parker, another All-Star who helped lift the Spurs with a Western Conference Player of the Week performance. "Everybody can step up and do a little bit more. But it would be tough over a longer period."

After posting wins over New Orleans, Dallas and Phoenix with lead assistant Mike Budenholzer at the helm, the Spurs are hopeful they won't have to press their luck much longer.

Popovich is expected to return to the bench tonight against Charlotte, while Duncan is still listed as questionable after participating fully in practice Tuesday.

Tonight's game at the AT&T Center will feature the bookends of the NBA standings. At 36-11, the Spurs own the league's best record. The Bobcats (11-33) boast the worst.

For Popovich, just being back on the bench and with his team will make the night worthwhile.

As expected, life on the couch did not sit well with one of the more hands-on and detail-oriented coaches in the game.

"It's an out-of-body sort of experience," Popovich said. "Very strange."