HOUSTON – At one time or another, just about everyone has had the facts-of-life talk.
Tim Duncan and Spurs fans got the facts-of-life message from Gregg Popovich on Thursday night at the Toyota Center and spent the entire second half of a 105-85 loss to the Rockets sitting on the bench.
And it was the right thing to do.
“Down 18, third game in four nights, on the road,” Popovich said. “We weren’t playing well. I’m not sure how many times I want to be down 18 in this shortened season and work Timmy, Manu (Ginobili) and Tony (Parker) to work us out of that hole. Not this early in the season.
“Later on, depending on our situation, it might make more sense. But at this point, it was a great opportunity to treat it like training camp and get a lot of the younger kids out there and treat it like a practice.”
Duncan also happened to shoot 1-for-8 and grabbed just one rebound in the first half as the Spurs were falling behind 53-35.
But the Big Fundamental’s 15 ½ minutes of playing time had less to do with in his ineffectiveness than the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it schedule that just never stops. When the Spurs get back home to play the Jazz on New Year’s Eve, it will be the first of six games in nine nights.
So especially on a team where Duncan is 35 and Ginobili is 34, discretion will have to sometimes be the better part of valor this season. It’s just one more of the twists and turns in the unusual 66-game, jam-packed season that everyone – players, coaches and fans – is going to have to learn to accept.
“In a season like this one, I’m not gonna say you’ll see it very often, but kinda often,” Ginobili said. “It’s really hard to send everybody to make a huge effort that you’re not sure is gonna pay back. Then we have the games on the 31st, the 2nd and then back-to-back. You have to be smart and just let it go and think about the next one.”
Down the hall in the other locker room sat the Rockets’ Kyle Lowry, who was one rebound and two assists short of his second career triple-double entering the fourth quarter. But he never got off the bench in the final period because the Rockets were playing the first of three games in three nights and coach Kevin McHale wanted to keep him fresh.
Sitting for success. Get used to it.