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Old 02-21-07, 01:30 PM
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Mike Finger: Elson gaining confidence in his Spurs role

http://www.mysanantonio.com/sports/c...s.186fdd4.html


Mike Finger: Elson gaining confidence in his Spurs role

Web Posted: 02/21/2007 02:43 AM CST


San Antonio Express-News

Allen Iverson hasn't changed the balance of power in the Western Conference. Neither, likely, will Jason Kidd. But there is a new arrival who still has a chance to shake things up, and he was on display on the same court as Iverson at the AT&T Center on Tuesday night.
And when the NBA's trade deadline finally passes Thursday, people will have to ask:



Will any midseason acquisition have a greater impact on a championship run than a healthy, productive Francisco Elson?

The Spurs might have other deals working, but none likely have the potential to give them the kind of boost they can get from a swap they've already made. If they can trade the Elson of the first half — one who missed time with injuries and was slow to adjust to a new system — for the Elson of the past two weeks, it could turn into a difference-making transaction.

Elson showed how Tuesday, just as he started to do at the end of the Spurs' rodeo trip. In his nine-point, eight-rebound effort against the Nuggets, he beat opposing big men up the court, he worked hard on the glass, and he showed the kind of presence that can take some pressure off of his more accomplished teammates.

In other words, he looked a lot like he did the last time Denver was in town.

Last January, when he was still playing for the Nuggets, Elson scored 13 points at the AT&T Center in a Denver victory, reeling off a couple of fast-break dunks and barking at the Spurs' bench. It was a performance that helped him convince the Spurs to sign him last summer, and it was a game he still laughs about now.

"We killed them," Elson said, loud enough for a couple of his new teammates to overhear. "They couldn't keep up with me."

He was joking when he said it, but there was a ring of truth to it. The Spurs signed him in large part because of his athleticism and ability to run the floor, and he hadn't been able to display those qualities regularly until he returned from an injured shoulder last month.

Elson said his lack of productivity early in the season had more to do with "focus" than his health, but whatever the reason, there's no denying his game is starting to come together. Last week at Detroit he delivered his best performance as a Spur, posting 12 points and 18 rebounds. And since re-joining the starting lineup six games ago, he's shooting 65 percent from the floor while averaging 7.8 rebounds per game.

It's the kind of production the Spurs have been pining for from their big men all season, and coach Gregg Popovich said he's been encouraged by the breakthrough. Elson still isn't the best post defender the Spurs have had — he had a few problems with Nenê on Tuesday — but Popovich said it's obvious he's getting more comfortable at both ends of the floor.

"He's (having) less and less of those confused moments," Popovich said.

If anyone looked confused Tuesday, it was the Nuggets, who had to be wondering if they made the right move in letting their old center get away. When Elson wasn't taking fast-break passes from Tony Parker and finishing at the rim, he was rolling to the basket for a backdoor layup, or following a Tim Duncan miss with a putback. And even though he isn't dominant on defense, he remains Popovich's best option for slowing either Dirk Nowitzki or Amare Stoudemire in the playoffs.

Elson said he doesn't see himself as a difference-maker, but he does understand how important he can be during the next few months.

"These guys have been together for a long time," Elson said. "If I can just do what I do and try to help out, good things will happen."

As for the Nuggets and their big new arrival? After Tuesday, Denver is 2-5 with Iverson and Carmelo Anthony in the same lineup. If anyone needed a reminder that there are no quick fixes in the NBA, Denver is Exhibit A.

Familiarity still matters, as does a core of star players who know their roles. The Spurs have that already, which is why they won't be making a big splash at the trade deadline.

Not when they already can find their best midseason acquisition in their own locker room.



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Old 02-21-07, 01:31 PM
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Its weird but, its like you can see him getting familiar and better with each game. I also lost count how many times Elson beat his man down the court...
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Old 02-21-07, 01:42 PM
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If you could somehow combine Oberto's instincts with Elson's body you'd have the center the Spurs have been longing for since DRob left.
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Old 02-21-07, 01:43 PM
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Elson has played well the last three games.
I still have some doubts about him, but he has done well. He certainly is fast and quick.
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Old 02-21-07, 01:47 PM
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Let's not forget that Elson missed some time with his shoulder injury. His development and comfortability with this team would be a little more advanced had he not missed that time.

Elson will be a good player for this team.
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Old 02-21-07, 01:54 PM
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He was starting to show some good progress right before he got injured. Now that he's back in the starting lineup, he's really been impressive. I hope this continues! Having Bonner in there to fight under the basket is good for us, too.
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Old 02-21-07, 02:10 PM
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I was happy ever since I heard Elson was coming to town. I think he will really be key to help gaurd Dirk and pick up some easy baskets against Dallas should they choose to double Tim.
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Old 02-21-07, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Since re-joining the starting lineup six games ago, he's shooting 65 percent from the floor while averaging 7.8 rebounds per game.
If he can keep this numbers we'll be tough to beat in the playoffs
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Old 02-21-07, 02:28 PM
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i definately see him guarding dirk or amare...he has great shot blocking abilities, and finishes well at the rim...he definately has the potential to be one of the best athletic big man since the the team lost david
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