Manu Ginobili of the Spurs scores as DeMarre Carroll of the Jazz attempts the block during second-quarter NBA action at the AT&T Center on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012. Billy Calzada/Express-News By Mike Monroe
After 10 years of playing in San Antonio, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili’s mastery of English is flawless, but the ebullient Argentine has had to strike one of his favorite adjectives from his vocabulary.
Thrilled with his injury-delayed season debut Saturday in a 110-100 victory over the Utah Jazz at the AT&T Center, the two-time All-Star had to catch himself while describing his feelings.
“It felt very good,” he said, smiling broadly. “Of course, very happy to be — wait, ‘happy’ is not a word anymore
— but I was very satisfied. I was able to play for a few minutes. I felt better than expected.”
Ginobili is awash in the world of social media — he has 1.4 million followers on Twitter — so he was acutely aware of the “war on happy” that erupted after Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rankled at the suggestion by TNT interviewer David Aldridge during Thursday’s televised game against the Thunder that he might be happy with the Spurs’ shot selection in that game. “Happy?” Popovich replied to Aldridge. “Happy? Happy is not a word we think about in a game.”
Make no mistake, though. Ginobili was plenty happy after his first game, which followed missing eight days with a painful tight back. He produced eight points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 15 minutes and 30 seconds.
Ginobili said his back tightened slightly after the game, but not as badly as he expected.
“My back is a little bit tight, but I’m telling you, not as bad as I thought and not as tight as I thought it was going to be. So, great. Tomorrow I’ll come back to the gym, get some treatment and stretch. But overall, I’m very satisfied.” Let the record show Ginobili paused a long while before choosing the word “satisfied.”’ No panic:
After Utah point guard Mo Williams led a Jazz comeback that wiped out a double-digit Spurs lead in the final 2:06 of the third quarter, Popovich surprised rookie guard Nando De Colo by putting him into the game to defend Williams at the outset of the quarter.
“I probably gave him a heart attack when I called his name and put him into the game,” Popovich said. “But he came out and didn’t miss a beat.”
Neither did De Colo’s heart.
“I was fine,” he said. “I was ready. I have practiced every day to be on the court, so now I just want to do the job.”
His approach to defending Williams was simple.
“I just tried to do what the coach said: Push him on to his left hand and try to play together on defense, and this is what we did.”
Williams scored only two points in the 3:15 that De Colo logged in his NBA debut.
Related link: Spurs Nation