Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk (4): Manu Ginobili looked like his old self against the Nuggets over the weekend and the Spurs need that to continue. After a tough Monday night game against the Clippers they have a six-game road trip.
Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News (5): Losing Kawhi Leonard for at least eight games will challenge commitment to defense, place big burden on Stephen Jackson.
John Schuhmann of NBA.com (5): Thursday’s fourth-quarter collapse against the Knicks was disappointing, but Saturday’s performance (20 points on 10 shots in 23 minutes) by the previously-sluggish Manu Ginobili against the Nuggets was encouraging. Before they head East for six games, the Spurs can exact some revenge and test their defense against the Clippers, who crushed them in L.A. and visit on Monday.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (6): San Antonio has lost two of its last four games and received more bad news with Stephen Jackson out four to six weeks after injuring his finger.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com (4): Shredding Denver after their uncharacteristic late capitulation against the Knicks was a nice pick-me-up. The bigger deal for the Spurs, though, was seeing Manu start to look like Manu in that rout of the Nuggets. His bad back wouldn’t let it happen against the Knicks and Lakers.
Average Spurs ranking: 5th
Air Alamo power rankings (last week in parenthesis)
1. Los Angeles Clippers (6): Not only have the Clippers rectified their defensive struggles but they have beaten legitimate contenders — San Antonio (twice), Miami, Memphis and the Lakers — by an average of 10.6 points. Next up: Oklahoma City.2 Memphis Grizzlies (3): Their eight-game winning streak was snapped last night against Denver. They slide to second as a result but, in reality, they should be viewed as a close 1A to the Clippers.3. New York Knicks (2) A loss to the emerging Grizzlies on the road is nothing to be ashamed about. Losing their emotions, though, is inexcusable.4. San Antonio Spurs (1): Last week’s No. 1 ranked team underwent a couple of inauspicious bounces (aside from losing to New York and the Clippers): First, losing Kawhi Leonard for two weeks. Next, losing Stephen Jackson for at least a month, leaving San Antonio with a noticeable hole.5. Miami Heat (4): Miami’s high octane pace has alleviated their 26th ranked defense for the time being.6. Oklahoma City Thunder (5): Kevin Durant is in the midst of a career year, having been named the Western Conference Player of the Week, but the Thunder have yet to figure out a way to succeed when he sits. The difference: A whopping 26.4 points per 100 possessions.7. Los Angeles Lakers (8): The Lakers have won four of five games under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff. One caveat: Each team, with the exception of the Warriors, is below or at .500.8. Milwaukee Bucks (9): Nothing is special about this team. They are extraordinarily decent (seven players have an above-average player efficiency rating). Decent is certainly good enough to do well in the Eastern Conference.9. Brooklyn Nets (10): Brooklyn has been an average team defensively — except when Reggie Evans, a limited offensive player, is in the lineup. Should they play more of Evans, sacrificing offense in the process, to improve their defense?10. Atlanta Hawks (13): Atlanta has four players creating more than two steals per 36 minutes, a big reason they lead the league in opponent turnover percentage.11. Utah Jazz (11)12. Dallas Mavericks (17)13. Portland Trail Blazers (23)14. Chicago Bulls (7)15. Golden State Warriors (22)16. Boston Celtics (15)17. Denver Nuggets (14)18. Charlotte Bobcats (28)19. Philadelphia 76ers (12)20. Minnesota Timberwolves (16)21. Indiana Pacers (20)22. Houston Rockets (18)23. New Orleans Hornets (19)24. Toronto Raptors (21)25. Orlando Magic (26)26. Detroit Pistons (30)27. Phoenix Suns (24)28. Cleveland Cavaliers (25)29. Sacramento Kings (27)30. Washington Wizards (29)
Biggest riser: Charlotte Bobcats (+10); Portland Trail Blazers (+10)Biggest faller: Philadelphia 76ers (-7); Chicago Bulls (-7)