Spurs take Game Four

The San Antonio Spurs came into game four knowing that they needed a much better performance than what they put on Sunday afternoon.   They did just that,  coming out and quickly putting the Mavericks in a 20-point deficit. In the end, the Spurs walked out of American Airlines Center with a 93-89 victory.

The Mavericks battled back and at one point in the game was tied at 87 apiece.  The Spurs then ran a simple pick and roll play with Tony Parker being trailed by Devin Harris.  Nowitzki, who was in foul trouble most of the fourth quarter, was playing a bit too soft and the defensive exchange did not happen in time giving Boris Diaw time to float to the top of the key the go-ahead 3-pointer.

“It was just a regular pick-and-roll,” Diaw said. “We try to put Dirk Nowitzki in pick-and-roll because it’s harder for him than for [Samuel] Dalembert, for example, to switch on Tony. It’s harder for Dirk to be able to help and come back to the player that set the screen. That’s why I was the one on the pick-and-roll. That’s exactly what happened. He helped on Tony and he was a little late and I was wide open for the three.”

Before the game, both the Spurs and the Mavericks showed solidarity to the Clippers organization and protested the Clippers owner by wearing black socks.

“My understanding is that the whole league is doing it,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “The fact that they’re together and doing it to basically say that this is not right, is something I respect.”

“We’re going to do the same thing that Houston and Portland did,” Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said before the game.  “Both teams are going to wear the black socks. Rick (Carlisle) and I talked and we’re both going to wear them in support.”

Tickets for GAME FIVE are still available so be sure to get yours now and support your San Antonio Spurs

Notebook: Green gets off shooting schneid

By Jeff McDonald

HOUSTON – Danny Green’s first jumper of the game was good, a 20-footer just inside the left arc.

He followed that with a 3-pointer, and then another.

By the time Green left the Toyota Center on Sunday afternoon, having canned 6 of 9 field goals good for 15 points in the Spurs’ 116-107 preseason win over Houston, he was ready to declare his shooting slump dead.

“It’s easy to get in a rhythm once you get the first one out of your holster,” Green said. “You shoot with a little more confidence. You don’t have to think about it so much.”

For much of the preseason, Green’s goal has been to keep his many misfires from getting into his head.

Heading into Sunday’s game, the Spurs’ starting shooting guard had clanged 11 of his 15 attempts in three exhibition contests.

That came on the heels of a Western Conference finals series against Oklahoma City last postseason in which Green went 8 of 31 and was eventually benched in favor of Manu Ginobili.

With Sunday’s sizzling performance, Green lifted his preseason shooting percentage a full 15 points, from 26.7 percent to 41.7 percent.

“I’ve been putting up extra shots, and they’ve been feeling good,” Green said. “Hopefully, I got over that mental slump and can get it rolling again.”

Manu’s back: Ginobili returned to action after missing two games with a minor foot injury.

He played a shade less than 18 minutes, scoring 11 points with three assists, including a nifty no-look pass to set up Tony Parker’s only basket of the game.

Just getting on the floor was important for Ginobili, who said his conditioning might not have survived a more extended layoff.

“In six days or seven days (off), I didn’t lose much conditioning,” the 35-year-old guard said. “It’s good that I didn’t have to miss more practice time or playing time, because then it would start to go downhill.”

Ginobili said he felt a pinching sensation in the heel of his right foot after logging 12 minutes in the Spurs’ preseason opener against Montespachi Siena on Oct. 6. An MRI came back clean, and rest seemed to do the trick.

“It bothered me for three or four days,” Ginobili said. “I didn’t practice much. On the fifth or sixth day, I started to feel better and got back to work.”

Mills’ return imminent: Backup point guard Patrick Mills, out for two games with a sprained right ankle, says he hopes he can return to practice Monday morning.

“It was a little one, just a scratch,” Mills said. “I’m fine.”

Barring a setback in practice over the next five days, it’s likely Mills will be activated for the Spurs’ next preseason game, Saturday in Miami.

Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN

Najera retires from NBA to coach D-League’s Legends

FRISCO — Eduardo Najera, the first Mexican-born player drafted in the NBA, retired Wednesday to become the coach of the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends.

Najera was drafted by Houston in the second round in 2000. The former Cornerstone High and Oklahoma standout played 12 NBA seasons with Dallas, Golden State, Denver, New Jersey and Charlotte.

The Legends said Najera will now be the first Mexican-born head coach under the NBA umbrella. The deal also includes Najera becoming a minority owner of the Legends, who are co-owned by Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, and holding a front-office position with the NBA team.

“This is a dream come true,” Najera said. “I have long wondered what would be in store for me when I hung up the basketball playing shoes, and this is the perfect opportunity for my post-playing career. The chance to develop as a coach, while also assisting Mark (Cuban) and Donnie with the Mavs, is an ideal situation.”

Najera succeeds Del Harris as the Legends coach. Harris is the general manager.

The Legends’ first coach two years ago was Nancy Lieberman, the first woman to coach a men’s pro team.

Najera, who made his NBA debut with the Mavericks in 2000 and played parts of five seasons in Dallas, played the last two seasons with the Bobcats.