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On a team that prizes unselfishness and sacrifice above all else, it should come as no surprise that Matt Bonner isn’t grumbling over his reduced role with the Spurs.
Indeed, the New England native’s comments to his hometown Concord Monitor
during the Spurs’ recent visit to Boston could have come straight out of Gregg Popovich’s coaching manual. “It comes with experience. I’ve fallen out of a rotation many times throughout my career,” said Bonner, 32. “For whatever reason, I’ve been out of the rotation (this year). “My reaction is to keep working harder and to do whatever I can to help the team win. You can pout, or you can work even harder to be an even better teammate and stay ready every chance you get.”
Such as Monday’s game against the Clippers, in which Bonner scored 10 points in the fourth quarter despite having played just 11 minutes in the previous five contests.
It was one of the few highlights of Bonner’s ninth NBA season, during which his minutes have plunged to just 10.6 per game. Not only is that roughly half what he averaged over the past four seasons – 20.4, 21.7, 17.9 and 23.8 — it’s the lowest figure of his career.
The sharp-shooting redhead has become something of a lightning rod during his seven seasons in San Antonio.
At his best, Bonner is a historically good 3-point shooter — 41.7 career percentage, 12th-best in NBA history — who plays surprisingly solid post defense. Thanks in large part to his ability to stretch the floor from a frontcourt position while almost never turning the ball over, the Spurs registered a 116.4 offensive rating when he played last season, a figure that would have led the league by more than six full points.
Bonner’s biggest shortcoming? He hasn’t been able to duplicate that impact in the playoffs, where both his scoring average and true shooting percentage tend to plummet. Such was the case last spring, when he shot 31.3 percent from the floor as the Spurs fell to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals.
Bonner appears to have bounced back, shooting a league-best 64.3 percent on 3s this season. Though that hasn’t been enough to earn consistent minutes, there’s ample evidence Popovich is using the early season to experiment
with new lineups. If the Clippers game is any indication, Bonner still has a role to play with the Spurs.
Until it becomes more pronounced, he still has quality sandwich knowledge to dispense. Spurs Nation