Bench contributing less than Spurs need
Web Posted: 06/19/2005 12:00 AM CDT
Express-News Staff Writer
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Had Spurs assistant coach Don Newman wanted to save a few words, he could have said, "We want them to play like Lindsey Hunter and Antonio McDyess."
But when asked Saturday what the coaching staff expects from the Spurs' reserves tonight in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Newman chose thoroughness over brevity.
"We need guys to come in and step it up, take their roles seriously and really contribute on both ends of the court," Newman said.
While Hunter and McDyess have given the Pistons all of the above and then some the past two games, the Spurs' bench has provided about as much spark as a wet match.
"Awful" is what Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the play of his bench in Game 4, when Hunter and McDyess combined to outscore the Spurs' reserves 30-21 in the Pistons' 102-71 victory.
In addition to scoring 17 points, Hunter recorded five assists and two steals and helped pressure Spurs backup point guard Beno Udrih into committing a pair of turnovers that the Pistons turned into four points.
"That's what it takes in a series like this," Brent Barry said. "You need someone to step up and get something done like that."
The Spurs arrived in Auburn Hills hoping to get such a lift from either Barry or fellow reserve Robert Horry, but so far neither has delivered.
"It's been up and down," Barry said of his play in the Finals. "I would like the opportunity to get on the floor and get comfortable a bit more and just try to take advantage of the chances that are there."
Barry averaged 8.6 points in the Western Conference finals against Phoenix. He hit 53 percent of his shots (16 of 30) in the series, including 55 percent of his 3-point attempts (11 of 20).
In the Finals, Barry is averaging just 3.3 points after missing 6 of 11 shots, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.
"This is a different series in that it's a little more physical and not open-court play," Barry said. "But I'll just try to contribute in some way."
If Barry continues to flounder, Popovich could turn to Devin Brown, who scored eight points in Game 4 while logging a playoff-high 20 minutes.
Brown, a former West Campus High School and UTSA standout, said he hopes the performance proved to Popovich that he could deliver strong minutes despite playing with a herniated disk. "My body is feeling great and I'm ready to go," Brown said. "I'm just trying to build confidence and let (Popovich) know he can call on me."
Popovich might think twice about calling on Udrih after the rookie from Slovenia struggled against Hunter.
"Maybe I can do better, but it is kind of hard to adjust," Udrih said.
Udrih admitted that he has looked to the referees for help while facing Hunter.
"It's the playoffs and I have to put it in my head that the refs are not going to call everything," Udrih said. "In some other games, they would call it. But they don't call it here. I've just got to put it out of my mind and play hard and be in attack mode all the time."
Udrih spent the past two days studying video of his matchup with Hunter.
"He's ready to come back out here and not make the same mistakes he made last game," Newman said. "If he does that, we'll be in great shape."