When he arrived at the bench with 5:12 remaining in Saturday’s game against the Jazz at the ATT Center, Manu Ginobili knew his work for the evening was over.
After a few moments, a second realization hit him: He had not attempted a 3-point shot.
Unable to recall the last game he had not launched at least one, he was surprised to discover the last time he had not attempted a 3-pointer was Game 4 of the Spurs’ 2008 first-round playoff series against the Suns.
“I thought it was going to be more, but I guess it’s just three seasons,” he said after Sunday’s practice.
Ginobili has taken 441 3-pointers this season, more than any of his teammates and already a career-high. Previously, his 389 attempts in 2007-08 had represented his busiest season from long range.
Ginobili had a simple explanation for his failure to launch on Saturday.
“I didn’t get the opportunity,” he said. “It’s not that I passed shots that I didn’t take. I was just guarded the whole time, and I tried to attack and find open teammates.
“I realized after I went to the bench for the last time that I hadn’t shot one, but it’s no big deal. Once in a while, it’s good not to force it. If you’re open, you shoot; if you’re not, you just drive it.”
The two-time All-Star understands his willingness to fire away from long range forces opponents to choose how to defend him. When a defense opts to guard him closely when he is at the 3-point line, driving lanes open.
“It’s not going to be every game like that,” Ginobili said. “Sometimes you do have to shoot it to keep the defense honest and guard you. Some teams just focus on not letting you get into the paint, so you have to punish them.
“I didn’t see the opportunity yesterday, so I didn’t take any.”
DUNCAN FRESH: With his minutes played at a career-low 28.4 per game, Tim Duncan says he has gotten to the brink of the playoffs with plenty of energy.
“I feel great,” he said after Saturday’s victory. “My ankle’s not 100 percent, but juice-wise I feel pretty energized.”
Duncan suffered a sprained left ankle against the Kings on March 21 but returned to the court March 31.
HOW MANY COACHES DOES IT TAKE? Tiago Splitter’s free-throw mechanics remain an ongoing project. The 6-foot-10 rookie has the lowest percentage (54.0) of any Spurs player who has attempted more than 10 free throws this season, but not because of lack of practice.
After Sunday’s brief session, Splitter stayed on the court for more than half an hour working on his form with shooting coach Chip Engelland. By the time most of his teammates had headed for the showers, Splitter was surrounded by five Spurs assistants.