Posts Tagged ‘DeJuan Blair’

Banged-up Spurs Begin Six-Game Road Trip

HANGTIME SOUTHWEST – Five days ago the San Antonio Spurs were the picture of good health, one of just two NBA teams with a clean injury slate. Now, as they begin a six-game, 10-day road trip through the Eastern Conference, two key injuries have the Spurs plugging holes with D-League reinforcements.

Starting small forward Kawhi Leonard (knee) could return by the fifth game of the trip (at Orlando in a week) and reserve small forward Stephen Jackson (finger) will miss all of it, and more. Jackson is expected to be out four to six weeks after he fractured his right pinkie finger Monday night.

Combined, the pair averages 18.3 points and 9.7 rebounds. Beyond the stats, Leonard is a tough wing defender and he helps spread the floor offensively as a 3-point threat. The veteran Jackson obviously delivers jolts of energy and attitude at both ends of the floor.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich loves to rotate players and the injuries will make that more difficult to accomplish when most needed on a long road trip that winds through Boston, Indiana, Toronto, Washington, Orlando and finally Miami, and includes two back-to-backs. Through 11 games — with the Spurs quietly at 8-3 — Popovich has used 10 players for at least 16 minutes a game with only two players – Tim Duncan and Tony Parker – averaging at least 30 minutes (both are at a very reasonable 30.5).

“It hurts numbers-wise,” Duncan said following Monday’s loss home loss to the Clippers. “Obviously, what they mean to the team skill-wise and being out on the floor and making shots and all the rest of that stuff, numbers-wise we actually had some guys step up. Matty (Bonner) got back in there and played well. Nando (De Colo) got an opportunity, so we’re just going to have to keep shuffling and see what we get out of it.”

On Wednesday, the Spurs recalled guard Cory Joseph from their D-League affiliate in Austin and signed former draft pick James Anderson, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard who was playing for the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

But, old hands like Bonner, whose customary 20 minutes a game over the last four seasons has been sliced in half this season, in-and-out-of-favor DeJuan Blair and the inconsistent Tiago Splitter will have to pick up more minutes and help out the rejuvenated Duncan (18.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg) on the boards, the one area the Spurs collectively have lacked, ranking 24th in the league in rebounding differential and near the bottom in giving up offensive rebounds.

“Obviously we lose a lot of size with Jack and Kawhi, so that’s going to be a disadvantage for us at that 3-position,” Duncan said. “We’re going to ask them to do a lot more of that rebounding and rebound their area, but it’s on all of us. We know what we have to do. We know where we’re being hurt, and definitely the offensive glass is one of them.”

Election Day: ‘Barack To Barack’

Kendall Marshall, the rookie point guard of the Suns did not specify politics or not Tuesday night. But since he asked….

The NBA community was part of the Twitter traffic as President Barack Obama won re-election in a race that generated financial contributions from around the league, from players to coaches to owners to commisioner David Stern, for the Democratic incumbent and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Royce White of the Rockets was poignant, DeJuan Blair of the Spurs celebrated, and Jason Richardson of the 76ers turned the phrase.

“Barack to Barack #Obama2012,” @jrich23 wrote as Obama closed in on a second consecutive White House win. (more…)

Duncan Quietly Returns To Spurs

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As we endure another Dwightmare and recover from the shock of Steve Nash choosing to play with the rival Lakers, Tim Duncan‘s free agency has gone without fanfare.

Oh, you forgot that Duncan, the four-time champ and future Hall of Famer, was a free agent?

Other teams probably forgot too, because back in May, Duncan declared himself a “Spur for life.” And on Tuesday, Yahoo! Sports’ Johnny Ludden reports that Duncan and the Spurs have agreed on a new three-year contract about equal to the $34 million that the Celtics are giving Kevin Garnett. That would keep Duncan playing until 2015, when he turns 39.

Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears also tweeted out three important details about Duncan’s new deal: First, the deal is fully guaranteed. Second, the third year of the contract is a player options. And third, Duncan has a no-trade clause in this new contract.

The Spurs also have agreements in place to bring back guard Danny Green and big man Boris Diaw. So their playoff rotation will return intact and they might now see what they can get for DeJuan Blair.

The Spurs have done an excellent job of supplementing their veteran core with young role players, but Duncan is arguably still the most critical piece to the puzzle.

Blair Comes Cheap, Motivated

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – A lot of money is being thrown at free agent big men this summer.

Kevin Garnett is getting $34 million more from the Celtics. Roy Hibbert is getting a max deal from either the Blazers or Pacers. Omer Asik will be getting $25 million from the Rockets or Bulls. Ersan Ilyasova is getting $45 million from the Bucks. Ryan Anderson is getting about $35 million from the Hornets. And now it sounds like Brook Lopez is getting a max deal, whether he plays for the Nets or Magic next season.

So what would you say about the idea of paying $1.1 million for a big man who played almost 1,400 minutes for the best team in the league last season?

DeJuan Blair was a feel-good story for the San Antonio Spurs. He was taken 37th in the 2009 Draft and quickly became a contributor for a title contender, despite his lack of ACLs.

But Blair was replaced in the Spurs’ rotation by Boris Diaw late last season, and he played just 77 minutes in the playoffs. Then, there were reports that the Spurs might bring over Slovenian big man Erazem Lorbek next season, possibly pushing Blair further down the depth chart.

Lorbek looks to be re-signing with FC Barcelona, but Blair still thinks his days in San Antonio are numbered. (more…)

Spurs have to bring the nasty again

OKLAHOMA CITY – Guess who needs to get nasty again.

None of the Spurs are reprising the famous timeout call to arms from coach Gregg Popovich during Game 2, but they are noting that an attitude change is necessary heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference final tonight against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena, a rally cry from a team that has a 2-1 lead in the series and wins in 20 of its last 21 games.

It’s not strange, it’s the Spurs. They have achieved a rare level of greatness – consistent success, sometimes championship success, through years of roster alterations and change in style of play – by refusing to settle for one loss every seven weeks or so. They are also historically stable, though, in a way that going back as the enemy into arguably the best home-court advantage in the league, as the Thunder try to tie the series, does not cause alarms.

The setting is not a concern. But the approach is, with the Spurs knowing they have to bring a different attitude tonight as part of the admission that Oklahoma City was more aggressive Thursday in Game 3.

“They were hitting first,” said Stephen Jackson, a reserve swingman acquired at the trade deadline specifically because he would bring more of that edge to the locker room. “They were way more aggressive, they were way more physical. They flat out wanted the game more than we did, and it was obvious from the jump of the game. We’ve got to match their intensity from the jump and be ready to play and we can’t expect our three stars (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili) just to bail us out every time.”


Deep Spurs Have Simple Plan: ‘Next!’

SAN ANTONIO – The cast on Tiago Splitter’s left wrist doesn’t mean he had an unexpected and violent meeting with the glass case of a fire extinguisher. It also doesn’t mean that alarm bells will be going off in the Spurs’ locker room if their center can’t be in the lineup for Game 2.

Boris Diaw will continue to start at center. But DeJuan Blair, who started 62 games at center during the regular season, will be the first big man off the bench. Blair entered the game when Splitter was ruled out for the second half of the series opener after getting hurt trying to break a fall. Blair played 10 minutes, scored five points and grabbed two rebounds.

“DeJuan Blair is ready to go,” said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. “He did a good job (in Game 1). He sat for a long time, but he came in and got right to it.”


Jazz Must Dance To Their Own Tune

SAN ANTONIO – Gregg Popovich, coaching his 182nd playoff game with the Spurs, couldn’t have been more comfortable if he were lying on a raft sipping a cold drink. Ty Corbin, coaching in his first playoff game with the Jazz, was in water over his head.

Not that there weren’t a bevy of other reasons – Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Stephen Jackson – that pushed Utah under in Game 1, but the button-pushing Corbin didn’t help himself when he hit the one labeled “panic” when he changed up his plan of attack.

First, Corbin shifted his team’s look by putting Josh Howard into the starting lineup in place of DeMarre Carroll, who had part of the five-game winning streak that put the Jazz into the playoffs. Corbin said he was looking for playoff experience and reaching back to the days of 2006 and 2009 when Howard played in the postseason for Dallas against the Spurs. Howard didn’t score.

More importantly, Corbin did not use his big lineup of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors long enough to have any effect on the game. We’ll excuse Corbin for making a rookie mistake – he reacted instead of acting. He admitted to allowing Popovich and the Spurs to set the pace and the tone of the game by going small.


Blogtable: Race For West’s No. 8

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

With a little more than a week left in the season, who do you like for No. 8 in the West? What’s going to make the difference?

Steve Aschburner: Houston. It would be nice, at this late stage of their careers, to have Steve Nash and Grant Hill in the postseason again but Phoenix faces a gauntlet of tough foes down the stretch (Thunder, Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, Spurs) with only that last opponent likely to ease up pre-playoffs. Going by strength of schedule – the biggest remaining factor – the potential-maxing Rockets are in the best shape, with New Orleans twice, Golden State once and a game at Miami on Sunday that might find the Heat in playoff-prep mode. Utah finishes with three home games but one is against the plucky Suns.

Fran Blinebury: The Suns have had the longest climb and they have the toughest finishing lineup of opponents.  But only one road game.  They are playing free and fearlessly and having a lot of fun and that goes a long way at this time of the year.

Scott Howard-Cooper: Houston because of the veteran presence. Phoenix was my first instinct, for playing the best of the candidates. Then I looked at their closing schedule. The Thunder, the Clippers (in a back-to-back), the Nuggets, the Jazz, the Spurs. Only one road game, Tuesday at Utah, but very unfriendly. If the Suns make it, they will definitely have earned it. (more…)

Rosen’s Report: Spurs at Lakers

This game is all about jockeying for playoff position. In the homestretch, the Spurs have two goals: To stay healthy and to catch Oklahoma City and gain home court advantage throughout the Western Conference post-season tournament.

The Lakers are intent on keeping the Clippers in the rear-view mirror by securing the third seed. And in doing so, the Lakers would face Dallas in the first round, a team they’ve swept in the regular season (4-0). Also, with Kobe Bryant‘s injured shin most likely to keep him on the bench, the Lakers have another chance to develop the offensive chops of his teammates — something that would undoubtedly make L.A. even tougher to beat in the playoffs.


Spurs Still Facing Size Issue Vs Lakers

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Few teams understand their deficiencies the way the San Antonio Spurs do.

When the man in charge, Gregg Popovich, is the commander of the real straight-talk express, that’s just the way it has to be. So we’re sure that Popovich didn’t spare anyone’s feelings after Andrew Bynum worked the Spurs for a career-high 30 rebounds in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs last night in San Antonio.

What had to be clear to Pop (and his team as well) is the fact that even in a lockout-shortened season that saw them make all the necessary tweaks to their own roster, the Lakers’ length and athleticism in the paint remains an issue for them.

Depending on how things break down in the playoffs, it might not matter much. But if these two powerhouse franchises do get together in the postseason, the Spurs will have some things to resolve against Bynum and Pau Gasol.