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Old 04-03-06, 02:35 AM
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MySA: Rebounds improve end result

Rebounds improve end result
Web Posted: 04/03/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Mike Monroe
Express-News Staff Writer

The Spurs' 49-30 rebounding advantage in their 106-99 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday represented both a rarity and an opportunity.

Only nine times in 73 games have the Spurs outrebounded an opponent by 10 or more. They are 8-1 in those games, the loss coming in overtime at Philadelphia despite a 54-41 rebounding edge.

With the playoffs approaching, the Spurs say they understand the need for continued emphasis on rebounding. They outrebounded only four of 12 opponents in March and hope Saturday's production in their first game in April carries through the last nine regular-season games and into the playoffs.

"Rebounding is something we've needed to improve since way back in the two Detroit games," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Saturday's rebounding effort helped overcome Washington's 51 percent shooting. "Over time, we've made it more of a priority, and the guys have done a good job in that area."

The Pistons, a potential NBA Finals opponent, dominated the Spurs in rebounding 57-30 in a Christmas Day game at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The need for a more determined approach was re-emphasized after Detroit manhandled the Spurs 56-32 in rebounds Jan.12 at home.

The Spurs rank 15th in the 30-team league in rebounding, averaging 41.43; their opponents pull down 40.49 per game. The Pistons have been outrebounded slightly, 41.05-40.37, making their rebounding control in their two victories over the Spurs even more enigmatic.

"We just know that if we made it to the Finals against a team like Detroit or Miami, teams that rebound very well, it's definitely a key for us to rebound better if we're going to have a chance to win," said center Nazr Mohammed, the Spurs' No.2 rebounder at 5.3 per game.

Tim Duncan leads the Spurs in rebounding, his 11.1 average ranking fifth in the league. Small forward Bruce Bowen, who matched his career high with 11 rebounds Saturday, said the Spurs must fight a tendency to let Duncan and Mohammed do the bulk of the work.

"A lot of times, players tend to watch, thinking Tim is going to get the rebound, or Nazr is going to get it," Bowen said. "Now, we're all trying to help them out, because some of these teams that are very good rebounding teams, our big men are occupied with their big men. We all need to come back and help them."

Injury update: Duncan watched Sunday's practice from the sideline but was feeling better and is expected to play Tuesday at Utah.

Popovich said Duncan probably has been suffering from food poisoning.

Duncan began feeling ill late Friday and missed Saturday morning's shootaround. Though he looked nauseous and lacked energy, he totaled 16 points and 14 rebounds in 32 minutes during the victory over Washington.

Duncan twice became sick in the locker room after the game.

"He was just a stud out there," Popovich said Sunday. "He looked sicker than a dog."

Beno Udrih, who has missed the past two games because of a sprained left ankle, worked out Sunday and also could play against the Jazz.

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