Spurs Team Report (Yahoo! Sports)


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With less than a month left in the regular season, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is understandably concerned about getting all the pieces in working order. There’s the issue of Tim Duncan’s gimpy knee and Manu Ginobili’s reintroduction to the lineup.

 Ginobili is back at practice and could return within in the week. Popovich also wants Ginobili to build a rapport with recently-added Drew Gooden to headline what could be a potent second unit.

“It’s not what you want to be doing at this time of year,” Popovich said of the juggling act. “You want to have your rotations, you want to know who’s coming in for who, who you want to rest and who you don’t want to rest, who needs more time to get ready.”

Despite the injuries and uncertainty, Popovich isn’t looking for sympathy. Just about every contender has dealt with or is dealing with injuries with the playoffs right around the corner.

“Nobody cares about your injuries and the league is such that there is no handicap given for injuries, so you don’t even think about it,” Popovich said. “You just move on and try to survive as best you can.

“You don’t really have time to tell yourself, ‘Gee, we really did well by hanging in there.’ It’s irrelevant. All that matters is who is left standing at the end of the year.”

 Rockets 87, Spurs 85:   For the second consecutive game at home, San Antonio was in position to pull out a win, but couldn’t close the deal. The Spurs missed two shots in the last 10 seconds Sunday to get nipped by Houston two days after Boston did the same.

San Antonio (45-24) dropped to second in the Southwest Division, a half-game behind Houston and third in the Western Conference. The Spurs had led the division outright since Jan. 3 and were second in the West since Jan. 19.

 Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined for 45 points, but shot a combined 3-for-15 in the fourth quarter. Ron Artest topped Houston with 24 points, but it was a Luis Scola lay-up off a pass from Yao Ming with 11.2 seconds left that proved the game-winner.

Notes, Quotes

 • The Spurs don’t exactly live and die by the three-point shot, especially with Tim Duncan as one of the league’s premier low-post threats. But the Spurs do rely on the long-range bomb more than most, and lately it’s not falling.

San Antonio went into Sunday tied with Boston as the league’s best three-point shooting team. In the three games leading up to Houston, the Spurs made just 12 of 57 from downtown.

 “We’ve still been getting good looks,” Roger Mason said. “When you’re one of the best three-point shooting teams, other teams are going to try to contest harder. That’s part of basketball. There are nights when shots just don’t fall.”

 • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich can appreciate the job Houston has done with all of their injuries, including dealing with the loss of Tracy McGrady for the season. The Rockets and Spurs were playing for the Southwest Division lead Sunday.

“They’ve played well without people for two years now,” Popovich said.

“Yao (Ming) was out for a very long time last year and they won 20 in a row or some crazy number like that. Tracy has been out a lot this year and they’ve won. They’re a deep team, they’re a talented team.

“I think Rick Adelman has done an amazing job of keeping all the pieces together and keeping them on a winning track, so they just haven’t missed a beat. It doesn’t matter that (Ron) Artest has been out from time to time, (Shane) Battier was out for a while. They’ve done a great job.”

 Quote To Note:   “We’re concerned with playing well and closing out games. We’re concerned about being ready for the playoffs. At the end of the day we want to put ourselves in the best position, but we don’t care about standings.” —Guard Roger Mason, after San Antonio fell to second in the Southwest Division and third in the West with Sunday’s loss to Houston.

Roster Report

Rotation:   Starters—Point guard Tony Parker, Shooting guard Roger Mason, Small forward Michael Finley, Power forward Tim Duncan, Center Kurt Thomas. Bench—Center Matt Bonner, Forward Ime Udoka, Forward Bruce Bowen, Center Fabricio Oberto, Guard George Hill, Forward Kurt Thomas, Forward Drew Gooden, Guard Jacque Vaughn.

 Player Notes:  

 • F Tim Duncan had his best outing in a month Sunday against Houston, until the fourth quarter. Duncan scored 23 points, the most he’s had since Feb. 17, but went scoreless in the final period on four missed shots.

“I’m fighting through it,” Duncan acknowledged. “It’s getting a little better every game.”

 • C Kurt Thomas started in place of Matt Bonner against Houston’s physical frontline Sunday. Thomas had nine rebounds and four points in 30 minutes.

 • F Drew Gooden seems to be picking up the Spurs’ system with ease. The after-practice sessions with assistant coaches and fellow reserves have allowed Gooden to gradually take on more with each game.

“He’s doing real well,” Gregg Popovich said. “He’s a quick study.”

 Medical Watch:  

 • G Manu Ginobili (stress reaction right leg) is progressing in his rehab. The sixth man is expected to return sometime this month.

 • C Ian Mahinmi (ankle surgery) is inactive. He had surgery Jan. 30 and was expected to miss 6-10 weeks.