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Old 10-19-09, 01:43 AM
Eddy from Austin's Avatar
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Spurs' practices getting longer

By Mike Monroe - Express-News

After giving his players a day off from the practice court, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich put them through a session on Sunday that lasted slightly more than two hours, part of a planned expansion of activity designed to have his players in peak condition by opening night.

By unofficial observation, the Spurs have had three practices of two hours or more in the past six days.

“For us, training camp practices get harder as we go,” Popovich said. “We don't start out hard in the beginning. We try to wind it up as we get close to the beginning of the season. It's a good way to try to stay away from injury and let people get back in the swing of things, and not be Mr. Macho in the very beginning.”

For newcomer Richard Jefferson, playing for his third team in as many years, it seemed like a smart approach for a veteran team.

“He told us that's what it was going to be, that he was going to build up,” Jefferson said. “We had a little idea of what he was trying to accomplish. You come in here, and you know every day is going to get more and more intense. Just like when the season starts, every day, every game is going to get more and more intense.”

Like most NBA coaches, Popovich understands that practice opportunities diminish during the grind of the regular season. He relishes the opportunity to get in good practices, spaced around days off, during the preseason.

Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal and the Spurs' Tim Duncan likely won't be performing too many crab dribbles when they meet in the regular season on March 26 at the AT&T Center.

Crabby: The NBA last week announced a clarification to its official rule about traveling.

For years, the league's referees have allowed players to take two steps after catching passes on the move, and before jump stops, even though the official rule book specified that players could take only one step.

The interpretation of the rule came into play last season when Cavaliers star LeBron James complained he had been called for a travel when he had taken what he called a “crab dribble” — catching on the fly and taking two steps before putting the ball down on the court.

Now, the league has changed the written rule to allow players on the move “to gather the ball, after driving or catching it, and then take two steps.”

“I was doing that move a lot my first couple of years in the league,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “Then they put that rule, so I try not to do it any more. It's a question of habit to not do it. If they say it's a travel, it's a travel. Different people will say different stuff.”

Last edited by Eddy from Austin; 10-19-09 at 01:47 AM.
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