By Mike Monroe
Physically, all members of the Spurs’ “Big Three” had no problems after returning to action Thursday against the Boston Celtics at the ATT Center.
Power forward Tim Duncan, who missed the previous four games with a sprained left ankle, said the injured joint felt good and presented no problems.
Point guard Tony Parker, who sat out Monday with a bruised left patella, had no residual pain.
Shooting guard Manu Ginobili, who sat Monday with a left thigh contusion, said his leg felt a little weak, but didn’t hurt.
What did hurt was the team’s fifth straight loss, a 107-97 defeat that further eroded the Spurs’ lead over the Lakers in the Western Conference standings, and Ginobili struggled to accept a subpar game he said wasn’t linked to the injury he suffered Monday in Memphis.
“It didn’t hurt,” he said. “My left leg was a little weak. It didn’t figure as much, but it felt good. Can’t complain.”
Ginobili also was puzzled by the fact he did not get to the foul line for the first time this season in a game in which he played more than 30 minutes.
“I think I should have gone a couple times,” he said. “It just didn’t happen. But I attacked the rim. It hurt me, also, that I couldn’t make a shot. The defense wasn’t really worried about my shot.”
MCDYESS RELIEVED: Starting center Antonio McDyess felt his left foot roll when he stepped on Ginobili’s foot with 8:21 left in the third quarter and immediately jumped off his other foot to take his weight off the joint.
Though he limped to the locker room with trainer Will Sevening in tow, he was able to return to the game with no ill effects.
“I didn’t think it was real bad when I did it,” he said, “but I was afraid it was going to swell up worse than it did. Once they checked it out and retaped it, I knew I was going to be able to come back to the game.”
McDyess was relatively certain he would suit up tonight in Houston.
“It’s just a little sore,” he said afterwards. “It’s nothing serious, just a little tweak. The initial pain was a lot worse, but it went away. I’ll ice it on the plane and keep the swelling down. I’m pretty sure it will be OK.”
BAD TIMING: Rookie guard Gary Neal followed Monday’s 3-for-14 shooting performance in a loss to the Trail Blazers with a 4-for-12 game against the Celtics, then promised to keep shooting.
“All you can do is stay in the gym and keep working and hope it’s a short slump and not a prolonged one,” he said. “You’ve got to keep shooting when the shots are there.”
PERSONALLY SPEAKING: Celtics star Kevin Garnett, who scored 20 points, said Boston’s players took umbrage at the fact Spurs coach Gregg Popovich “rested” four starters on Monday.
“We know they rested their stars and were prepared for this game,” Garnett said. “We took this personally. They are the best team in the league. If you don’t come in here and play, they’ll treat you like the worst team in the league.”