Goal for Spurs' Ginobili: avoid mishaps
Web Posted: 04/15/2006 12:00 AM CDT
Express-News Staff Writer
Manu Ginobili walked out the door and onto the Spurs' practice court Friday afternoon. Or so he tried.
As Ginobili took his second step, his left foot caught on the doormat, causing him to briefly stumble. After steadying himself, he immediately clutched his heavily wrapped calf.
"Ow!" he yelped. "Hurt again!"
With that, Ginobili turned to his small audience and laughed. Disaster avoided. For one more day, at least.
After practicing Friday, Ginobili pronounced himself ready to help the Spurs try to secure the Western Conference's No.1 seed. His next challenge: Getting his coach's permission.
"I'm much better," Ginobili said.
The rest of the Spurs also felt better than they did leaving the AT&T Center after Thursday night's 92-80 loss to Orlando. Dallas' loss in Phoenix, which didn't end until early Friday morning, allowed the Spurs to maintain their 11/2-game lead atop the conference.
While losing to the Magic assured the Spurs of finishing behind Detroit — and not having homecourt advantage should the teams again meet in the NBA Finals — they can clinch the West's No.1 seed as early as Sunday if they win in Minnesota and Dallas loses to Utah. If the Mavericks, who close out the season Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, win their remaining two games, the Spurs can clinch under two scenarios: by beating both Minnesota and Utah; or simply winning in Houston in Wednesday's season finale.
Even if Dallas wins out and the Spurs lose both games of their Minnesota-Utah back-to-back, the Spurs can still win the Southwest Division and top seed by beating the Rockets. The teams would then have identical 61-21 overall records and 13-3 division records, but the Spurs would win the tiebreaker with a better conference record.
After losing three of five games on their recent homestand, the Spurs would prefer to take care of business as soon as possible. Their first priority, however, is to get healthy.
Tony Parker, coping with a stomach virus much of the week, felt a little better Friday, and coach Gregg Popovich is optimistic he'll be able to play Sunday. Robert Horry had to briefly leave Thursday's game after being kicked in the left shin, but is fine, Popovich said.
Ginobili, meanwhile, played one-on-one and four-on-four Friday in his most extensive workout since he bruised his left calf and shin against Dallas on April7. Although Popovich wants to first see how Ginobili feels today, it would be a surprise not to see Ginobili on the court at some point Sunday in Minnesota.
Of course, Ginobili already was a little surprised when he didn't play Thursday. Popovich included him on the active roster and said prior to the game he would likely play him limited minutes.
Brent Barry started in Ginobili's place for the third consecutive game. Each time Popovich walked down the bench, Ginobili looked up in anticipation of being called upon.
Popovich debated at the start of the fourth quarter whether to use him but opted to leave him on the bench.
Said Popovich: "I still feel that was the right choice."
Holding Ginobili out another game gave him another couple of days to rest, though Popovich admitted, "at some point, he's got to go work the blood out of his leg."
Ginobili tried to do that Friday. He was aggressive and, perhaps more important, free of worry.
"I played without thinking about (the injury)," he said. "I'm happy with it. I would have loved to play (Thursday), but I understand."
Ginobili scored at least 22 points in three of the last four games he played — his most prolific, albeit brief, stretch of the season. He doesn't think he'll need long to regain his rhythm, despite going more than a week between games.
"We have three more games," Ginobili said, "and I'm going to use them wisely."
Which, in his case, means avoiding further injury.
LOLOL He is such a funny guy.. I love it when he makes me laugh... way to go Manu.. I am so happy that not only your health is back but you still have a sense of humor about it.. You are the man!!!!
Timmy D for MVP!!!!!! X3
"Today's game is style over substance. He's the opposite. He's substance over style. I think he's appreciated. I don't think he's adored."
Dave Odom, Duncan's college coach
Manu, Tim, Tony and the rest of the Spurs exemplify the meaning of "Pongan Huevos". They will play their best regardless of pain. They will take care of business and have the HCA in three of the four playoff series.
It is what it is -- Bruce Bowen
When everyone thinks alike, no one thinks.-- Bill Walton
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