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ATHENEA 12-30-09 11:55 AM

Article: Jefferson holds his own against bigger foes
 
Jefferson holds his own against bigger foes
Jefferson holds his own against bigger foes:banana
By Mike Monroe

With power forward-center Matt Bonner on the shelf with a broken bone in his right hand, Spurs small forward Richard Jefferson has found himself matched up defensively with power forwards for significant stretches recently.

The list of big men Jefferson has banged with in the post includes Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, Milwaukee's Hakim Warrick, New York's Al Harrington and, on Tuesday night at the AT&T Center, Minnesota's 6-foot-10, 250-pound Kevin Love.

It is not always the physical mismatch it appears. Jefferson on Tuesday more than held his own against Love. He also blocked a shot by 6-10, 265-pound Wolves center Al Jefferson early in the second quarter, then swatted another by Love a few minutes later. The official statisticians ruled the ball had slipped out of Love's hand before Jefferson knocked it aside, turning it into a turnover on Love, rather than a block for Jefferson.

Though only 6-7, Jefferson said he has had plenty of experience defending bigger players.

“No, blocking the bigs' shots isn't part of my defensive game,” Jefferson said, “but I'm long enough and athletic enough, and it's just a matter of being in the right spot to help out Timmy (Duncan).

“I played center in high school, and I know how to block shots. I jumped center in college, and I've played some big-man roles.”

Jefferson also had one of his most efficient offensive games, scoring 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting that included four 3-pointers on seven attempts.

He's No. 2: At halftime, it was hard to say which of the Spurs' backup guards had asserted himself more: Manu Ginobili or Roger Mason Jr.

By the time the Spurs had put the finishing touches on their 117-99 victory, their third straight, Ginobili's near triple-double had focused him squarely in the spotlight.

That was fine with Mason, content that he is re-establishing himself as a key contributor after ceding his starting role to Keith Bogans.

Mason continues to show he has ability beyond being a spot-up shooter from long range. He finished with 18 points, making four of seven 3-point shots.

“I'm just continuing to evolve as a player and realize I can get past my guy a lot of times and try to make the extra pass,” he said. “It's contagious. When one guy does it, then another guy wants to do it, and the next thing you know, one guy almost has a triple-double, like Manu tonight.”

Silver Samurai 12-31-09 05:31 AM

He could become the next Bruce Bowen only with better offense!


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