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Old 10-19-09, 12:40 AM
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Popovich shifts to real-game rotation

By Jeff McDonald - Express-News

The Dwayne Jones Era ended last week without fanfare. The Curtis Jerrells Era appears to be entering its twilight as well.

It's past the midway point in October, which means the days of Spurs games morphing into a Development League All-Star game not long after intermission are done.

With nine days and two preseason games left until the start of the regular season, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich intends to shift his focus from evaluating young talent in training camp to preparing his veteran players for the games that count.

Translation: When the Spurs next take the floor Tuesday, there will be no jacket required for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the team's regulars.

“We'll probably get a little bit more of a rotation, similar to the minutes some of the guys are going to play in the real games,” Popovich said Sunday.

If you ask Popovich's point guard, it's about time.

Parker says he is eager to see the Spurs' new-look roster — which includes newcomers Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess, Theo Ratliff, Keith Bogans and rookie DeJuan Blair — in its entirety.

“The next game is going to be pretty good to see where we're at,” Parker said.

The rest of the preseason has provided but a mere tease.

As is his custom, Popovich has carefully managed the exhibition minutes of his more established players, allowing the youngsters to fight for a place in the team's pecking order. On any given night, most of the Spurs' stars and veterans made either a cameo appearance or no appearance at all.

Only once this preseason have the Spurs suited up their full projected starting lineup: In the Oct. 9 victory over Olympiacos, each Spurs regular played, but only Ginobili eclipsed the 20-minute mark.

Other than that, the glimpses of the Spurs' full capabilities have been witnessed by a select few on the team's practice court.

“That's why I say I can't wait to do that in games,” Parker said. “Right now, we're just practicing. Everybody is learning the new plays, and it's looking good. I want to see what happens in the games.”

Jefferson, who has yet to log more than 19 minutes in a game and who sat out Friday's victory over Cleveland, said increased time with the core group should do him good.

He says the chemistry between the new Spurs and old Spurs — “the learners and returners,” in Popovich's parlance — is still a work in progress.

“You won't be playing your best basketball now, but that doesn't give you an excuse to start slow or anything like that,” Jefferson said. “We know the coaches are going to expect a lot from us. It's up to us to spend the necessary time to get the system down and stay focused enough to remember the things we need to.”

More than anything, Jefferson — the Spurs' likely starter at small forward — is looking forward to the opportunity to get tired.

“When you're playing six or seven minutes at a time, you don't really have your legs yet,” Jefferson said. “This next game, I'm going to be fatigued. It will be good to get out there, be fatigued, and get to fight through it.”

The final two exhibition games should also be of particular use to Ginobili, who is still working his way back into shape after spending the summer rehabilitating a stress fracture in his right leg.

He has shown signs of rust in limited minutes so far, a condition for which he knows but one remedy.

“I just need to play,” Ginobili said.

Held out of two of the Spurs' past three games, Ginobili says he would like to log one 30-minute night before the preseason ends. Whether Popovich intends on that remains to be seen.

“He's starting to get his rhythm,” Popovich said. “He looks bouncy. I'd say he's about 85 percent in shape. So he's on the right track, and he'll be ready to go when the season starts.”

Last edited by Eddy from Austin; 10-19-09 at 12:52 AM.
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Old 10-19-09, 02:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddy from Austin View Post
More than anything, Jefferson — the Spurs' likely starter at small forward — is looking forward to the opportunity to get tired.
Pretty much a lock.
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Old 10-19-09, 12:36 PM
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.....I cannot wait for the regular season to start!!!!!!!!!!! Hurry up already....
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Old 10-19-09, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Translation: When the Spurs next take the floor Tuesday, there will be no jacket required for Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the team's regulars.

“We'll probably get a little bit more of a rotation, similar to the minutes some of the guys are going to play in the real games,” Popovich said Sunday.
I'm glad I'm going to see that game
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Old 10-19-09, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddy from Austin View Post
I'm glad I'm going to see that game
Awesome! You got your tix?!!! I got cheap ones. Section 89 actually. Im still excited as hell to see the Spurs at Erwin center for once!!
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