Succinctly addressing the fine before the game, he said the decision shows the NBA thinking about its bottom line and didn't elaborate on conversations with the league before the penalty came down Friday.
"What I do from my perspective is from a coaching perspective," Popovich said. "And I think the league operates from a business perspective. And I think that's reflective in the action that they took."
San Antonio fans welcomed Popovich back with a thunderous ovation before the game. One fan behind the Grizzlies' bench held up a sign reading "Pop knows best." Others wore shirts with more colorful language directed toward Stern.
The Grizzlies played without Tony Allen for a second straight game because of an injured groin. It's unclear when their starting shooting guard may return.
On Thursday, Popovich put his Big Three and starter Danny Green on a plane and sent them home. It came at the end of a six-game road trip and after the Spurs had played five times in seven days, and Popovich justified his decision by saying he didn't want to subject them to so much wear-and-tear this early in the season.
Stern apologized to NBA fans before the Miami game and vowed his office would hand down "substantial sanctions," which he delivered on the next day. He said he "concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans."
Teams are required to report as soon as they know a player will not travel because of injury. The league's statement said the Spurs were in violation of league policy reviewed with the board of governors in April 2010 against resting players in a manner "contrary to the best interests of the NBA."
The rest didn't benefit everyone. Green was scoreless in 19 minutes before leaving with tightness in his left hamstring.
Notes: Popovich said it's unlikely that starting F Kawhi Leonard (knee) will return on this weeklong homestand. Leonard has missed nine games. The Spurs hit the road again Dec. 8. ... San Antonio beat the Grizzlies for the fifth straight time after sweeping them last season. Memphis hasn't won against the Spurs since knocking them out of the playoffs in stunning fashion as the No. 8 seed in 2011.
Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber