Posts Tagged ‘Jeff McDonald’

Ginobili Ready For Finals After Rocky Showing In Playoffs

— The way Tony Parker sees it, his teammate Manu Ginobili might be playing a rope-a-dope until the start of The Finals.

“I still feel like Manu is saving his best for last,” said the point guard who has spearheaded the Spurs’ drive through the playoffs.

While Parker has been splendid and 37-year-old Tim Duncan asserting himself in spurts, Ginobili has struggled to display his old form through the regular season and the playoffs.

Ginobili missed 22 games during the regular season in which an assortment of injuries to his hamstring, calf and back held him down to a career low of 11.8 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting. The hamstring injury kept him off the court down the stretch of the regular season and barely enabled him to be minimally effective in the first round against the Lakers.

“It is great to have this opportunity to keep playing,” Ginobili said following Sunday’s practice. “I feel better. If we had lost in the first round, I wasn’t even back (right) after three weeks resting and sitting. If you lose four games in that round, you go home feeling bad about the whole season.

“But since the way things have turned out now, to tell you the truth, I even forgot about the regular season. I am feeling good now. We are in the Finals. Who cares? Nobody’s gonna remember I missed 20 games in the regular season. This is a great way to finish it. Hopefully, we can win four more.”

The continuing physical setbacks were a surprise even to a 35-year-old playing his 11th NBA season.

“I felt really good in traing camp,” Ginobili said. “I was coming from the Olympics in great shape. Then I got the first problem and everything started to get screwed up. Now though, I’m feeling good, I’m energetic and excited to be here.”

In the Spurs’ 14 playoff games, Ginobili is still averaging just 11.5 points and his shooting has dropped to 38.3 percent. However, he has played an instrumental, if inconsistent, role in helping San Antonio get a crack at a fifth championship for the franchise. In the Western Conference semifinals, Ginobili hit the game-winning 3-pointer to beat Golden State in the epic double-overtime Game 1. He also dealt 11 assists in two games of that series. While he shot 1-for-6 with six turnovers in the sweep-clinching win over Memphis in the Western Conference finals, Ginobili also handed out six assists and battled for six rebounds against the rugged Grizzlies.

Duncan has talked this spring about having a different, deeper appreciation for the Spurs playoff run as a long-time veteran who can see the finish line of his career approaching.

Ginobili, who will become a free agent this summer, told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News that he he wants to play one more season and hopes that it will be in San Antonio.

“I am not planning on retiring,” he said.

His teammates know that Ginobili’s value cannot be expressed by shooting percentages or sheer statistics.

“Just having him on the court for us is a world of difference,” said Duncan. “Whether he’s making shots or not, he generates things. He makes plays — takes charges, gets into the lane and disrupts what teams are doing. Just having that on the court in itself, even if he doesn’t make a shot, is huge.”

“Manu is one of the ultimate competitors in our league and has been for a long time,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich “He’s a big factor winning games, winning championships. He’s very important to what we do.”

That’s why there is virtually no question that the Spurs will want him, need him, back for a 12th season, though it’s generally understood that he’ll earn far less than the $14.01-million that made Ginobili the highest-paid player on the team in 2012-13.

That will also be welcome news throughout San Antonio, where Ginobili’s hellbent style of throwing his body all over the court quickly made him popular and over more than a decade has made him beloved.

“I completely love what I do and I think people can tell,” he said. “Even though I can start to see the end of the road, it’s hard to really imagine being a retired player because I really love what I do.

“I enjoy the locker room before the games. i even enjoy it after a loss, just the camaraderie to stay together, to go to dinner and talk about what we’ve done wrong. To feel like somebody supports you and you support somebody. You try to get over humps. It’s a really a great feeling and one you’re probably never going to have it again once you retire.”

Can Spurs Hang On Without Parker?


HANG TIME, Texas –– With the Thunder falling at Denver on Friday night, the Spurs got a little breathing room in the race for the top seed in the Western Conference.

But almost before they could exhale, it was time to gasp in anguish when Tony Parker had to be helped off the court with a sprained left ankle.

“It’s a good one, he’ll be out a while,” said coach Gregg Popovich.

An MRI performed Saturday morning confirmed a Grade 2 sprain and the prognosis is for Parker to miss four weeks.

That timetable would put Parker back in the lineup with about two weeks left in the regular season, enough time it would seem to be at full strength for the start of the playoffs.

But the question is whether the All-Star point guard will return to a team that is still holding onto the top seed and home-court advantage all the way through the West bracket.

Over past three seasons, the Spurs are 7-7 without Parker, but eight of those games were also played without Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. They are 3-5 while missing all of the Big Three.

In games without Parker, but with at least one of Ginobili and Duncan, Spurs are 4-2 over past three seasons.

According to our good buddy Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News, Duncan is promising that the Spurs will soldier on:

Parker’s injury might not be a blow devastating to the Spurs’ push to hold on to the top slot in the West against hard-charging Oklahoma City, two games behind in the loss column.

But it certainly doesn’t help.

“He’s been our leader all year long,” said Tim Duncan, who a month earlier nearly to the day limped off the AT&T Center floor through the same tunnel with a sprained knee. “But we’ve played with all kinds of different people this year. We’re going to rally.”

But you have to remember that so much has changed over the past two seasons, as Parker has stepped up to be the main cog in the Spurs’ scoring machine as well as the quarterback that runs the offense. He is their leading scorer and assist man and had run his string of double-digit point games to 50 before getting injured in the third quarter against the Kings on Friday night.

While so much well-deserved attention has gone to LeBron James, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant in the MVP race, Parker has put up numbers that should have him in consideration, yet somehow he gets overlooked. He has never been voted an All-Star starter and finished out of the running again for the game played on Feb. 17 in Houston.

Consider this quote from Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo that McDonald pulled out of his notebook from last month’s Rodeo Trip, referring to Parker: “He’s the one they can’t afford to lose.”

If he is sidelined the full four weeks, that means Parker would miss key games against the Thunder, Grizzlies, Heat, Clippers and Nuggets.

One of the strengths of the Spurs over the past couple of seasons has been their tremendous depth. Now it could determine the No. 1 seed in the West.

Duncan = The Big Discount?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Tim Duncan’s Hall of Fame credentials are set. His legacy needs no polishing at this late stage of his magnificent career.

And yet Duncan continues to shine.

He’s doing it this time without even touching the court. By taking a whopping 54 percent pay cut to remain with the Spurs, he abstained from the summer’s free-agent-palooza and allowed the Spurs to maintain their financial flexibility. That helped San Antonio keep its core group intact as it tries to mount one last championship run in the Duncan era.

As Jeff McDonald of the Express News reports, there was no need for a negotiating session:

“I’m an awful negotiator,” Duncan said, chuckling. “My agent was mad at me the whole time.”

Duncan was on hand at the Spurs’ practice facility Tuesday for the start of his 16th NBA training camp. That would have been surprising only if the notoriously casual dresser had arrived in something out of Craig Sager’s wardrobe.

Though technically a free agent for about a week in early July, the 36-year-old Duncan said he never seriously considered retirement and never remotely entertained the idea of playing elsewhere.

“I’ve been here for so long,” said Duncan, who took no calls from rival teams. “This is home for me.”

That’s a welcome statement for NBA observers who still cringe at the memory of Hakeem Olajuwon in a Toronto Raptors jersey or Patrick Ewing in Seattle SuperSonics green.

Taking that pay cut means Duncan instantly became The Big Discount. With his reported $9.6 million salary, Duncan moves from near the top of the league’s earnings list to a new spot behind the likes of Al Jefferson and Carlos Boozer, solid big men who will both earn $15 million this season but won’t rank anywhere near Duncan when their careers are over.

Two Gordons, Eric ($13.6) and Ben ($12.4), will both earn more than Duncan this season, as will Hedo Turkoglu ($11.8), Corey Maggette ($10.9), DeAndre Jordan and even former Spurs swingman Richard Jefferson ($10.1).

That doesn’t include the four amnestied players — Brandon Roy, Gilbert Arena, Elton Brand and Rashard Lewis — all of whom will earn between $21 (Roy) and $15 (Lewis) million for not playing with the teams that owed them that money. Arenas isn’t even on anyone’s training camp roster.

In an era when folks love to poke players for being all about the “Benjamins,” Duncan deserves some credit for being about everything but his own bottom line!

Manu Ginobili ‘Healed And Healthy’

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — With all of the news these days about players going down with significant injuries, the San Antonio Spurs will soon welcome back one of their biggest names. Manu Ginobili is set to return sometime in the next “week or so,” according to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, providing a boost for a team that has more than held its own without the All-Star shooting guard.

The Spurs are 14-7 in the 21 games Ginobili missed, including last night’s 89-84 win in Memphis. Ginobili was on the court shooting Monday morning, per Jeff McDonald of the Express-News, and caught the eye of both Tony Parker and Popovich:

The first bus already had departed the FedEx Forum on Monday morning, taking most of the Spurs’ traveling party back to the team hotel after shootaround.

Tony Parker wasn’t quite ready to leave.

“I’m going to stay and watch Manu shoot,” Parker told a Spurs staffer.

On the mend from a fractured fifth metacarpal in his left hand, Manu Ginobili lingered late to get up a few extra shots.

Parker wasn’t the only interested spectator. Coach Gregg Popovich also stuck around to supervise the session, which was closed to the media.

Later, before tipoff against Memphis, Popovich gave the most optimistic assessment yet of his All-Star guard’s progress.

“The doctors say he’s healed and healthy,” Popovich said before the Spurs’ 89-84 win over the Grizzlies. “It’s just a matter of conditioning and timing, rhythm and confidence, all those things right now.”

When Ginobili comes back he could reprise the sixth-man role he has played at various times throughout his career with the Spurs, but only to help ease him back into the action, according to Popovich.

It won’t matter to Parker and the rest of the Spurs, who will welcome back an All-Star in a season where so many others — Zach Randolph, Al Horford and now Chauncey Billups — have been lost for the longer stretches and in some cases the entire season.

Duncan’s Lakers Troubles

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — We were worried the Lakers and Spurs might be “resting” guys tonight when they meet tonight at Staples Center (TNT at 10:30 p.m. ET).

The Lakers eliminated that prospect by showing up for this game on an ugly five-game losing streak. The Spurs don’t have much incentive to extend themselves. They don’t need to send any messages or make any statements.

But they do need to make sure Tim Duncan can find his groove against the Lakers’ bigs, just in case they meet up again down the road.

Jeff McDonald of the Express-News explains:

If anyone in silver and black could use a positive outcome against the two-time defending champions, however, it is Duncan.

Repeatedly flummoxed by the Lakers’ twin 7-footers, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, Duncan has scored a total of just 12 points on 5-of-26 shooting in three games against the Lakers this season.

“They clog it up inside,” Duncan said. “They do a good job challenging shots. With their length, they can do that.”