Manu’s early elbow injury mars Spurs’ 61-53 halftime deficit.

Gregg Popovich’s worst fears — and that of Spurs Nation — were realized barely two minutes into the first half of the Spurs’ final game of the season at Phoenix.

Manu Ginobili went down with what appeared to be a hyperextended right elbow that has knocked him out for the rest of the game.  

The injury occurred with 9:46 left  in the first quarter when Ginobili was coming around a pick set by Tim Duncan and appeared to get his right arm caught between Duncan and Phoenix’s Grant Hill.  

Ginobili stayed down for an extended period before he was taken to the Spurs’ locker room for treatment. X-rays taken at America West Arena were negative and he’s scheduled to have an MRI performed when the team returns to San Antonio on Thursday.

The injury affected the Spurs’ focus for the rest of the first quarter. Phoenix hit 65.4 percent in the quarter en route to a 43-27 lead. It was the most points scored against the Spurs in a quarter this season.   

The Suns pushed their lead to 18 on several occasions later in the second quarter before San Antonio held them defensively with no baskets during a 13-4 spurt that pulled them within 58-51 on a runner by Gary Neal with 2:00 left.

Antonio McDyess got themn within 61-53 at the break after a jumper with 10.8 seconds left.  

Marcin Gorta scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Suns, Grant Hill added 10 points and Steve Nash had eight points and seven assists.

The Spurs were led by Tim Duncan with 14 points and seven rebounds.

But the Spurs’ thoughts were with Ginobili after his injury. I wouldn’t be surprised if Popovich runs a lot of substitutes in the second half as he tries to get through the rest of the game without anybody else getting hurt.

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