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Old 01-23-06, 12:47 AM
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Article: Finley's shooting goes cold

Finley's shooting goes cold

Mike Monroe
Express-News Staff Writer

On an afternoon when he helped hold Denver's high-scoring Carmelo Anthony to 4-of-19 shooting, Spurs guard Michael Finley had to face this fact: In his past two games, he has shot nearly as inaccurately, making only 4 of 18 attempts.

Despite the sprained right ankle that sidelined Spurs All-Star guard Manu Ginobili for the second time this season, coach Gregg Popovich opted to bring Finley off the bench in Sunday's game at AT&T Center.

Popovich did so to maintain some consistency in the role he wants Finley to play the rest of the season. Finley had started 18 games earlier while Ginobili either was inactive with a sprained foot or regaining his conditioning after inactivity.

In addition to maintaining Finley's role, Popovich started Brent Barry in hopes that might jump-start Barry's productivity. Neither player was able to take advantage of the strategy.

Finley and Barry each made 3 of 10 shots. Worse, they combined to make only 2 of 13 3-point shots in Denver's 89-85 victory, just the Spurs' third loss this season on their home court.

"It didn't work tonight because I didn't do anything," said Finley, who took only one shot in the fourth quarter, a 3 pointer, and missed it. "I didn't produce off the bench, but it's just a one-game scenario. Maybe next time, it will work. But it had nothing to do with Brent starting and me coming off the bench. I just didn't produce."

Finley said he didn't get some of the wide-open shots to which he has grown accustomed in his first season with the Spurs, but admitted the looks were good enough and that he should have made more of them.

"I felt good on all my shots," he said. "It just wasn't going down for me today."

What Finley did best was defend Anthony, who entered the game as the NBA's No. 8 scorer at 25.7 points per game. While Bruce Bowen did the bulk of the defensive work on Anthony, Finley was nearly as effective when matched up with the third-year player.

The effort needed to keep Anthony in check played no part in his poor shooting, Finley said.

"When you have a defensive assignment like that it keeps you in the game," he said. "You can't relax on the defensive end, so, conversely, it helps you on the offensive end, because you have your juice, and you're ready to go."

Ordinarily, making Anthony take 19 shots to score 20 points would produce a Spurs victory. Not Sunday.

"We did everything we were supposed to do in our game plan, except to keep them out of transition," Finley said. "And it goes hand in hand: When we're missing long shots and they're getting long rebounds, it gets them in transition, which is one of their strengths.

"So that really backfired on us."
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