By mrehome

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio Spurs’ guard Manu Ginobili is out for the rest of the season and the playoffs.

The Argentine player underwent scans on Monday that showed his troubled right ankle has gotten worse. Ginobili missed 19 games after the All-Star break before coming back late last month.

The Spurs said tests showed Ginobili had an increased narrow edema and stress fracture in his right distal fibula.

It was the news San Antonio dreaded after Ginobili sat out the fourth quarter in Sunday’s blowout loss at Cleveland, and leaves the Spurs limping toward the postseason in search of a fifth NBA title since 1999.

The Spurs said Ginobili wasn’t expected to need surgery. But either way, Ginobili is out and the Spurs are hobbling with less than two weeks before the playoffs begin.

Tim Duncan is bothered by sore knees and has been sitting out the second game in back-to-backs down the stretch this season. Tony Parker carried the Spurs after Ginobili first went out in February and Duncan’s knees began aching, and the weight figures to fall on the 26-year-old’s shoulders again.

The Spurs lead the Southwest Division by a half-game but have fallen two games behind Denver for the No. 2 seed in the West, a spot San Antonio had held for most of the season. Their final six games begin Tuesday at Oklahoma City.

Ginobili scored four points before his ankle stiffened toward the end of Sunday’s 101-81 loss to the Cavaliers.

Ginobili also missed the start of this season while recovering from surgery to his left ankle. He’s played in 44 games this season. He averaged 15.5 points and had recently been installed in the starting lineup — a different role for the NBA’s reigning sixth man of the year.

The 31-year-old Ginobili has played in seven NBA seasons, all with Spurs, and teamed with Duncan and Parker to build a nucleus that has won three NBA titles since 2003.

Last season, Ginobili’s sore left ankle made his signature explosiveness visibly absent in the playoffs, particularly in the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Later that summer in the Olympics while playing for Argentina, he hobbled off the court during a loss to United States and eventual got surgery to repair a ligament in the ankle.