Witherspoon, Spurs’ bench defeats new-look Rockets squad

By Quixem Ramirez

October 15, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Wesley Witherspoon (11) brings the ball up the court during the first quarter against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

At the start of the first period, alongside Tony Parker, Danny Green, Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan — each of whom started in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals — was 22-year-old forward Wesley Witherspoon.

Witherspoon was largely overlooked, logging 19 minutes in two games against the Atlanta Hawks and Montepaschi Siena. He earned a DNP in the Spurs’ six-point loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Sherron Collins and Tyler Wilkerson were waived last week, cutting the roster to 18 players. Waiving Witherspoon, who didn’t earn much playing time, seemed just as inevitable.

Waiving Witherspoon doesn’t seem as likely anymore. The forward out of the University of Memphis finished with a game-high 17 points in San Antonio’s 116-107 victory over the Houston Rockets. Witherspoon committed four personal fouls, a blemish in an otherwise impressive night, but he did look comfortable in the Spurs’ offense. He knocked down two of his four 3-pointers, including a corner 3-pointer. Witherspoon converted on 6-of-9 attempts overall.

In transition, Witherspoon was able to find space. On the perimeter, he was habitually in the right place to receive the final pass. He also careened to the line six times to keep the defense guessing. Basically, he didn’t do anything to catch Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s ire.

Take Witherspoon’s performance with a grain of salt, though: It was only one game and he still isn’t nearly as polished as Derrick Brown, Josh Powell or Eddy Curry, who turned in another solid game with 10 points and three rebounds.

It just prolongs the inevitable for a little longer. Perhaps, if Witherspoon continues on this trend, he will be called up with the Austin Toros. At his age, developing into a contributor is still in play.

Mini Manu shines again: Though the comparison to Manu Ginobili, who scored in double-digits after missing two consecutive games, is still completely far-fetched, De Colo is performing at a high level. De Colo utilized a few nifty passes, including another behind-the-back pass, finishing with five assists in the second half. If he doesn’t earn much regular season time, we can always cherish the time when, if you squint really closely, he looked vaguely similar to Ginobili.

DeJuan Blair turns in a strong second half, too: Blair and De Colo are developing a nice rapport. For reference, check out Blair’s fourth quarter numbers: 10 points, three rebounds and 4-of-5 shooting. Blair looked active and his mid-range shot is more efficient structurally, an improvement over last season. It is no surprise that, paired with De Colo, he succeeded. Blair upped his preseason averages to 9.5 points and five rebounds.

Next opponent: The Spurs will fly to Miami to spar with the defending champions on Oct. 20. Game time has been moved to 2:30 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on NBA TV.