By Mike Monroe
The AT&T Center crowd fell silent with 2:42 left in the first quarter of the Spurs’ 103-88 victory over the Celtics on Saturday night.
Manu Ginobili, the Spurs’ emotional leader, lay on the floor for several minutes after a collision with Boston’s Chris Wilcox.
Ginobili left the game and did not return. The injury was diagnosed as a contusion to the left quadriceps of the player famously nicknamed “El Contusión” by former teammate Brent Barry in 2007.
Ginobili’s availability for Monday’s road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder is not known, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich did not sound optimistic.
“He got a thigh contusion just above his knee,” Popovich said, “and one would think he is going to be stiffer than hell tomorrow. It’s hard to believe he’d be ready day after tomorrow for Oklahoma, but I’m not sure.”
Ginobili, 35, missed the first two games of the regular season with back spasms but has played in every game since the Nov. 29 game in Miami, when he was one of four players Popovich sent home from Florida because the team had played three games in the previous four nights and had a game against a Southwest Division rival two nights later.
It is not known if Ginobili will fly with the team when it departs today for Oklahoma City.
Relief for Neal: Watching his first 3-point shot of the game slide perfectly through the net with 7:27 remaining in the first quarter was a giant relief for Spurs guard Gary Neal, who had missed 9 of 12 long-range attempts in the previous two games, both losses.
“That was huge for me,” said Neal, who made 3 of 6 on 3-pointers in the victory. “I felt like I’ve been struggling to shoot the ball the way I have in the past. Just to see the first one go in enabled me to get a rhythm based on that.”
Neal finished with 20 points, his fourth game of the season with 20 or more points, mixing in his “tear drop” floater among his perimeter jumpers.
“That’s a shot you have to have, especially when you’ve got a reputation as a 3-point shooter,” he said. “Guys are going to run you off the line, and you kind of get stuck in the middle of that one-two dribble package.
“I’m not going to dunk on anybody, so I’ve got to be able to get that floater over the 7-footers. That’s something I work on all the time.”
Remembering Newtown: The Spurs, Celtics and the sellout crowd observed a moment of silence before tipoff for the victims and families of those affected by Friday’s elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Basketball is not an equal opportunity game. If you can't shoot it well, you don't get to shoot. -- Bob Donewald
Greg Simmons (@GregSimmonsKSAT) tweeted at 3:17 PM on Sun, Dec 16, 2012: Manu did make the trip to OKC but listed as doubtful with left quad contusion in last nights win over Boston. El Contusion! Thx Brent Barry!
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