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Old 12-06-12, 11:25 PM
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Heat game an investment in Spurs’ backups

by Jeff McDonald

A week later, that $250,000 fine is still paying dividends for the Spurs.

In Wednesday’s 110-99 comeback victory over Milwaukee, the Spurs got key contributions from a handful of developing players who earned their first extended action of the season in last week’s “M.I.A. in Miami” game.

Coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home before a nationally televised game against the Heat not only drew the fifth-highest fine in NBA history from commissioner David Stern.

It also provided a key learning experience for players such as Nando De Colo, Cory Joseph and James Anderson that has benefited the Spurs upon their return to the AT&T Center, where they complete a three-game homestand tonight against Houston.

“It gave them some great time on the floor where they weren’t looking around wondering if they should do things or take shots,” Duncan said. “They were able to put it on themselves and get some confidence and get a good feel for the court.”

De Colo, who had a career-high 15 points in 34 minutes in Miami, was a key figure in the 18-3 fourth-quarter run that pushed the Spurs past the Bucks.

Joseph and Anderson also found themselves playing crunch-time minutes against Milwaukee.

Though he insists he never had a problem with his confidence, De Colo said his extended time in Miami proved valuable.

“It’s always good to play a lot of minutes and do more things on the court,” said De Colo, a rookie guard from France. “We lost the game, so it was bad. But it was good for learning.”

Duncan addresses photo: Speaking after practice Thursday for the first time since a controversial Halloween photo found its way to the Internet, Duncan called the entire affair overblown.

“It’s this day and age,” he said. “It was a Halloween party, a private atmosphere. We were having fun.”

The picture, first leaked to popular website over the weekend, depicted Duncan and teammate Tony Parker, in costume, pointing toy guys at the head of a fellow reveler dressed as veteran NBA official Joey Crawford.

“There was nothing to it,” Duncan said. “But in this day and age, people want to blow things into something more than it is. Hopefully it’s gone.”

Given the time that has lapsed since the league first became aware of the photo, it appears unlikely to draw further disciplinary action.

Injury (non) update: Danny Green (hamstring) and Patty Mills (ankle) will be re-evaluated after shootaround today.

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