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Old 05-12-06, 10:24 AM
Eddy from Austin's Avatar
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Spurs' Ginobili looks to regain energy, be 'more useful'

Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer

The Spurs practiced long and hard Thursday, and Manu Ginobili was still standing, always cause for celebration around the team's offices.

After he had showered and dressed, Ginobili walked over to the assembled media wearing a black T-shirt with "FORCE" printed across the front in block letters. The Nike-produced slogan served not only as a reminder of Ginobili's role in last season's playoffs but also what the Spurs hope he can become again.

So far, Ginobili's postseason has looked a lot like the rest of his season. A half-dozen bruises. A couple of games where he looked to be playing in quicksand. The occasional electrifying performance.

"I'm not carrying that energy or confidence I had last year," said Ginobili, whose Spurs play the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday in Game3 of the Western Conference semifinals. "But I can't be thinking about that the whole season. I'm just not playing that well, and I'm trying to get out of it."

Ginobili improved his scoring from the regular season to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons. He averaged 20.8 points in last season's championship run and finished one vote shy of sharing the NBA Finals MVP award with Tim Duncan.

This spring has yet to bring the same success. In the eight playoff games, Ginobili is averaging 14.8 points, a slight drop from his regular-season average. He's made only 5 of 25 3-point attempts, which, with teams denying him the lane, has made it that much more difficult for him to settle into a rhythm.

Ginobili had 32 points and nine assists, both season highs, in the second game of the Spurs' first-round series against Sacramento when Ron Artest was suspended. He also scored 27 points and took nine rebounds in the Game5 victory. But in two games against Dallas, he's averaged 14 points and 3.5 rebounds while making 9 of 25 shots.

"I'm not that concerned about scoring points," Ginobili said, "but just overall being more useful."

With Tony Parker assuming a larger role, the Spurs aren't as reliant on Ginobili's scoring as they were a year ago. But they still feed off his energy and aggressiveness, which has fluctuated depending on his health.

Artest, the league's most physical perimeter defender, did his best to make Ginobili uncomfortable for much of the first-round series. Ginobili also beat himself up after his turnover at the end of Game3 led to a loss.

Though Ginobili won't use injury or fatigue as an excuse, the short turnaround between series didn't help, either. His deflection of Dirk Nowitzki's pass on Sunday's final possession secured the Spurs' victory, but Ginobili also had just missed three shots because his legs were too heavy to allow him to finish at the rim.

In Tuesday's loss, Ginobili and Parker struggled to score over the Mavericks' big men. DeSagana Diop dumped Ginobili hard on his tailbone early in the second half. Devin Harris later elbowed him in the face, causing one of Ginobili's teeth to puncture a hole below his lip.

The Spurs hope the three-day break is enough time for Ginobili to "fill his cup," as coach Gregg Popovich is fond of saying, before the series resumes in Dallas. Ginobili and Parker both said they benefited from having Wednesday off, and Popovich joked his two guards looked "fantastic" during Thursday's workout.

"There's a gleam in their eye and a rosebud in their cheeks," Popovich deadpanned. "I mean, it was a joy to just look at them."

In truth, Popovich often has winced watching Ginobili try to peel himself off the court after his countless collisions. Ginobili missed a career-high 17 games because of three injuries to his right foot and contusions to his left calf and quadriceps.

"I think Manu has been in that betwixt and between mode where he's just starting to better from bumps and bruises here and there, and then he'll get another one that he's got to come back from," Popovich said. "He's not that strong a kid; not that big, bulk-wise. When he gets an injury, it takes a while for him to get back from it."

The Spurs will need Ginobili and Parker healthy if they hope to better counter the Mavericks' athleticism. Neither has been able to use his speed as much as he would like — in the open floor or halfcourt — and the Mavericks remain focused on keeping them away from the rim.

"You know those guys aren't going to struggle forever," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "It's a big priority to try to slow them down and match their quickness."

Parker hopes to get Ginobili better involved, either by running more or employing more motion. Even when Parker has been able to penetrate, Dallas' defenders have stayed close to Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs' shooters.

Ginobili is optimistic he and his teammates will play better this weekend. He insists he doesn't feel any worse than he did a year ago. He'll also be coming off the team's longest layoff since the All-Star break.

"I've been very irregular this season," Ginobili said. "But we still have a chance, a good chance. I just want to improve, help the team and try to get a win there."
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Old 05-12-06, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
"I think Manu has been in that betwixt and between mode where he's just starting to better from bumps and bruises here and there, and then he'll get another one that he's got to come back from," Popovich said. "He's not that strong a kid; not that big, bulk-wise. When he gets an injury, it takes a while for him to get back from it."
That's what I noticed this year. Everytime it seems like Manu got into any kind of rhythym he would get injured again so he really hasn't been able to keep it up and I really think we have seen it in his confidence lately. Hopefully we see the real Manu pretty soon.

Last edited by kmgospurs; 05-12-06 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 05-12-06, 10:40 AM
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Manu will show up in game 3

i have confidence in him... we all know what he can do now he needs to get out there and do it!
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Old 05-12-06, 10:55 AM
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Parker hopes to get Ginobili better involved, either by running more or employing more motion. Even when Parker has been able to penetrate, Dallas' defenders have stayed close to Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs' shooters.
aj wants to take manu away
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Old 05-12-06, 11:05 AM
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I like the temperament of the Spurs during this layoff and how professional thay are behaving... I expect an explosion bigger than Krakatoa in big D on Saturday...
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Old 05-12-06, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Parker hopes to get Ginobili better involved, either by running more or employing more motion. Even when Parker has been able to penetrate, Dallas' defenders have stayed close to Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs' shooters.
This is exactly what I saw alot of on Tuesday, and unless Parker learns how to pass to Duncan when Tim's man rotates off of him to block Parkers shot, the Mavs will continue to do this.
If Parker gets to the rim, and the perimeter defenders aren't sagging in, when Diop or Dampier come to challenge his shot, Duncan is wide open next to the rim, Parker has to be able to make that pass, so that the other guys will have to start sagging down.
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Old 05-12-06, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddy from Austin
"I've been very irregular this season," Ginobili said.

"Try eating some bran Manu."
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Old 05-12-06, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Krusty
"Try eating some bran Manu."
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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
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Old 05-12-06, 07:33 PM
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lol exactly what I was going to say.

Get that man some Metamucil!
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