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kriD
04-09-2006, 03:55 AM
Spurs won't have Ginobili as they try to end skid

Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer

Brent Barry stood in a corner of the Spurs' practice facility Saturday afternoon politely fielding questions on everything from the team's dwindling Western Conference lead to Dallas' improved defense to El Contusíon's contusion count, each query more morose than the previous.

Finished, Barry started to walk away, then looked back at the group of reporters with a question of his own.

"We have won 58 games, haven't we?" Barry said. "I just want to make sure."

His point: Though mired in their first home losing streak in more than two years, life may not be as glum as it seems for the Spurs.

"We're in charge of our own fate," coach Gregg Popovich said. "So it's up to us to continue to play and get this thing done."

That said, the Spurs will have to play without Manu Ginobili for at least tonight. Kicked in the left calf and left shin in the fourth quarter of Friday's loss to Dallas, Ginobili remained very sore Saturday.

Ginobili, who also missed one game last month because of a bruised left calf, continued to play after suffering the injury but limped through the game's final few minutes. After Ginobili struggled to get up after a foul, Tim Duncan bought him some extra time to get to the free-throw line by asking for the ball, wiping sweat on it then requesting a towel to clean it off.

"He's got so many different bumps and bruises," Popovich said. "He's a tough kid, but we're going to have to keep him out."

The injury doesn't come at a good time for the Spurs. A loss to Memphis tonight not only would drop the Spurs into a tie with the Mavericks, it also would assure Dallas of finishing with a better division record, the first tiebreaker in determining the conference's No. 1 playoff seed.

The Mavericks finished their Southwest Division schedule 13-3 after beating New Orleans on Saturday. The Spurs are 11-3 and have one division game remaining after tonight:

The Spurs know of one way to avoid the tiebreaker scenario altogether.

"If we want to take care of our business," Tony Parker said, "we need to win our last six games."

To do so, the Spurs will need to get more production from Parker and Duncan than they received Friday. Each made only 5 of 15 shots, preventing the Spurs from countering Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 19 of his 30 points in the second half.

Duncan appeared to finally be emerging from his season-long struggles until he caught some type of stomach virus last week. He never settled into a rhythm Friday but was at least feeling better, a noticeable improvement from the previous three games.

"I went back to take a shower after that game (against Washington) and you didn't want to hear what was going on in that bathroom," Barry said. "It sounded like my college days.

"I think he's been a little worse for the wear because he fought through that game. There's no rest at this point, and Timmy takes so much on his shoulders."

The Spurs were actually at their best Friday when their reserves were on the floor. Nick Van Exel made all four of his 3-pointers. Fabricio Oberto grabbed six rebounds in his first six minutes. Michael Finley and Barry also hit key shots to keep the team's listless offense afloat.

"The bench kept us in the game," Popovich said. "We would have been in big trouble if they hadn't played well."

Popovich also was pleased with the Spurs' defense, considering it held Dallas to 92 points. What he would like to see tonight, however, is better ball movement. In four games this month, the Spurs have averaged 18.3 assists, down from the 24.7 they averaged in the last six games of March.

"As much as we want Tony, Tim and Manu to do things for us, to have as deep a team as we have, it doesn't need to be an issue that's forced all the time," said Barry, who may start in Ginobili's place tonight. "When we've had good stretches in which we've played well, it's been because we've shared the ball and trusted in our teammates.

"When we get back to doing that, and I think we will in the last six games, I think we'll feel that engine start to rev up a bit."

Horry practices: Robert Horry returned to practice Saturday. Horry missed Friday's game after the death of his father-in-law.

MavsFanFinley
04-09-2006, 12:15 PM
I was surprised to know that the Spurs are 10-4 without Ginobli this year. That's pretty damn good when you consider what he means to the team.

rabbitproof
04-09-2006, 04:04 PM
Yes, they control their own destiny but let's not give them an inch of breathing room.

Finish the season off by ripping out its guts, Mavericks! Capitalize!

Tokey41
04-09-2006, 04:42 PM
We should have kicked Parker in the balls when we had the chance... oh well, I guess Manu out will do.

MavsX
04-09-2006, 07:30 PM
damn frenchman