By Mike Monroe
In the first of what likely will be dozens of games without injured All-Star Manu Ginobili, the Spurs on Wednesday night needed a lift from someone, anyone, when the Warriors took an eight-point lead with 6:46 remaining at the ATT Center.
They got it from point guard Tony Parker, with an animated assist from coach Gregg Popovich.
The result was a 101-95 victory that was tonic for the Spurs’ confidence and proof that Popovich can still get from the bench to midcourt in just a few excitable seconds.
Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the final 3:41 after Popovich had spent all of the previous Warriors possessions screaming at him to continue attacking on offense.
When Parker followed with an aggressive move to the basket for a 10-foot teardrop bucket that gave the Spurs a 91-88 lead, Warriors coach Mark Jackson called a timeout, and Popovich ran briskly to midcourt to greet Parker.
“That’s what I want,” the coach yelled on his way to meet Parker, who got a hug and a playful slap on the cheek, laughing at his coach as they headed to the Spurs’ bench.
“Everybody needs to be in attack mode all the time, and Tony’s no different,” Popovich said. “Tony’s a great player, and when he’s in attack mode, he’s an even better player.”
Spurs captain Tim Duncan watched his coach’s show of emo? tion and shared a laugh with Parker. But he understood the effect Popovich had on the game.
“He was pretty fired up in that situation for a couple of reasons, and that’s the fire we’re going to need to push this team along right now with Manu out,” Duncan said.
“He’s the one to give it to us, so that’s great.”
Parker and T.J. Ford teamed up in a double-point guard backcourt for the final six minutes of a game in which the Spurs trailed from early in the first quarter until the final period.
Like the Minnesota Timberwolves, who made 57.7 percent of their shots in Monday’s game in which Ginobili fractured the fifth metacarpal on his left hand, the Warriors were torrid from the floor in the first half. Guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry combined to make 15 of 19 shots, and an ankle sprain suffered by Curry with 2:49 left in the third period forced him from the game and factored into the Spurs’ comeback.
With Curry gone, Popovich put reserve guard Danny Green on Ellis, and Green helped to limit Ellis to 4-for-11 shooting in the fourth quarter.
Green logged all of his 15:41 in the second half and scored eight points, but it was mostly his defensive work on Ellis that prompted Popovich to credit him with a “fantastic” game.
Ford also had his best game with the Spurs. He played the entire fourth quarter — all of it in attack mode — and scored seven points, with four assists in the period.
Popovich liked what he saw of the mini-backcourt.
“We needed to chase those guys,” he said. “I wanted to get Tony back in the game, but T.J. was playing great, so we just matched them up that way.”
Duncan recorded his first points-rebounds double-double of the season and was more aggressive in the post than in the first five games.
“You make some shots early and get some double teams,” he said. “I’ve got to do a better job and get more involved in the post and make some moves and make some plays. But a pretty good game all around.”
Ginobili watched the action from behind the bench, leaning in to listen to Popovich’s animated instructions during fourth-quarter timeouts and high-fiving his teammates with his healthy right hand at game’s end.
“Obviously, with Manu out and coming off a loss and just being at home, we needed to protect our home court,” Duncan said. “Good win for us. We find a way to come back, find a way to get some stops and get back into the game.”