Spurs fall to Pistons

The Defending NBA Champions have been through this before.  They know that, as the reigning NBA Champs, every team will come after them every night they play.  The Detroit Pistons were no different and managed to escape the confines of the AT&T Center with a 105-104 victory.  The way they did it is what is so surprising.

With the clock down to seven seconds and the Spurs’ Tim Duncan in-bounding the ball, what could go wrong.  Evidently everything.  An errant in bounds pass from Duncan landed into the hands of Brandon Jennings who then weaved his way through the backpedaling Spurs and drained an 11-ft jumper which sank the Spurs.

“We are getting better,” Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. “If you stay in there, sometimes you get a break. We had a very good break at the end. We got lucky at the end. Our resolve to stay in the game right down to the last few seconds was huge.”

Spurs fans also saw the return of Point Guard Tony Parker, who missed the past five games due to a strained left hamstring, although Coach Popovich only allowed him to play 17 minutes.

“He wanted to play, but I’m being conservative,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He had 13 minutes. That’s good after sitting out as long as he did; make sure he doesn’t re-injure the thing.”

The Spurs will have a little time to regroup as they take on the Phoenix Suns tomorrow night.  Plenty of great seats and affordable tickets are still available so get yours now and help cheer on your San Antonio Spurs!

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Ex-Spurs guard Vaughn gets win over former team

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By Jeff McDonald

ORLANDO, Fla. — Not long before the Spurs tipped off at the Amway Center, the opposing coach wandered into their locker room.

No, Jacque Vaughn was not lost in his new home arena.

“Jock-o!” a smiling Spurs coach Gregg Popovich bellowed.

Vaughn not only joined Popovich in the NBA head coaching ranks after spending three seasons as a player and two as an assistant with the Spurs.

Sunday night, Vaughn also beat him.

Behind 18 points from rookie Andrew Nicholson and 17 from Glen Davis, the Orlando Magic — in their first preseason under their rookie head coach — held on for a 104-100 victory.

Sure, it was just an exhibition. No, it won’t count toward the 847 victories Vaughn still needs to catch Popovich as the NBA’s winningest active coach.

For Vaughn, growing every day into the role of a head coach, the win was still sweet.

The best moment? After the game, when the Spurs — some of them his former players, others his former teammates — lined up on the court to give Vaughn a congratulatory hug.

“That was a special feeling,” said Vaughn, 37, who was named Orlando’s coach last summer when Stan Van Gundy was canned.

“There are guys on that team I played with, guys on the team that I coached, staffs that I was in a lot of meetings with. You think back on what basketball is all about, and for me, that’s it right there.”

Before the game, Popovich praised Vaughn, his latest former player to take the head coaching plunge.

“You can look at players on any team and get a feel for who has an intuitive sense of what’s going on on the court,” Popovich said. “Jacque had that. He was one of those players you would seek out and share information with and get suggestions from.”

For the veteran-laden Spurs, visiting Vaughn was the bright spot in another day in another preseason that some players admit is starting to feel a little like Groundhog Day.

The Oct. 31 opener at New Orleans can’t here soon enough.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who just want to get through the preseason,” Popovich said.

One of those veterans, forward Stephen Jackson, agreed: “Yeah, it’s boring. We’re ready for games that count.”

The Spurs weren’t quite locked in on either end Sunday, giving up nearly 50 percent shooting while hitting only 40.7-percent of their own shots.

Danny Green remained dialed in, hitting 3 of 6 3-pointers en route to 13 points. Tim Duncan offered a solid 12-minute cameo, producing nine points and four rebounds. Manu Ginobili had one of his sharpest outings of the preseason as well, pouring in 12 points on seven shot attempts.

Hoping to work his way into game shape, point guard Tony Parker asked for and received regular-season minutes, playing nearly 32. Parker’s shot was off — he missed 10 of 13 — and he finished with 10 points.

“I think we’re ready,” said Parker, whose team ends the preseason at home against Washington on Friday. “We’ve got another week of practice. Hopefully we can improve and be ready.”

Once the regular season begins, the Spurs and Magic are expected to take divergent paths.

One reason played out Sunday on the other side of the country, when Dwight Howard made his L.A. Lakers’ debut.

Orlando is in the throes of a rebuilding project that could get painful for Vaughn and new general manager Rob Hennigan, another Spurs expatriate.

Popovich is confident if anyone can get the most of the Magic’s young roster, it is “Jock-o.” Sunday, albeit in a game that didn’t count, Vaughn did just that.

“He understands what wins and what loses,” Popovich said. “He understands what a team really is. He’s sort of a no-brainer as far as coaches go.”

Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN

Franchise aims to help Anderson find a home

LAS VEGAS — Late last week, James Anderson arrived here in the desert, where it is always hot as Hades, feeling as if he’d landed in purgatory.

Anderson is a member of the Spurs’ Summer League squad, but not a member of the Spurs.

He is an unrestricted free agent, auditioning for his next job while still wearing the uniform of the team that cut him loose.

“I just came out here to show what I can do,” said Anderson, a 23-year-old shooting guard preparing for his third NBA season. “All the coaches are here. They’ll see what you can do on both ends.”

It is a situation Anderson could not have envisioned two summers ago, when the Spurs made him the 20th overall pick out of Oklahoma State.

At the time, Anderson was the team’s highest draft choice since Tim Duncan in 1997. The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, Anderson was a scoring star with exciting potential and a promising future in the organization.

Two years later, Anderson’s most likely future is elsewhere.

Besieged by injuries as a rookie, and replaced in the Spurs’ plans by journeyman Danny Green last season, Anderson played in just 77 games in two seasons, averaging less than 12 minutes.

Earlier this summer, Green parlayed a solid season into a three-year, $12 million deal. Meanwhile, Anderson is in Vegas begging for work after the Spurs declined to exercise a $1.56 million option to keep him.

Over the course of the week, and continuing with today’s game against the Lakers at Thomas Mack Arena, the Spurs aim to help Anderson help himself find a new basketball home.

“He deserves that,” said Spurs assistant Jacque Vaughn, coach of the Summer League team. “He deserves to be showcased. He deserves to be on an NBA team.”

Anderson says he harbors no ill feelings toward the Spurs about the decision to set him free. In fact, he’d prefer to stay with the Spurs if he could.

“Who wouldn’t want to stay in San Antonio with a program like that?” Anderson said.

With 14 players under contract, one below the league maximum, and the depth chart already crowded on the perimeter, it is unlikely the Spurs will bring Anderson back.

So in Vegas this week, Anderson is undergoing what amounts to a week-long job interview for 29 prospective employers.

He had a decent opening outing Sunday, scoring nine points with a steady defensive effort in the Spurs’ victory over Atlanta.

“I just play,” is how Anderson described his approach to this high-stakes Summer League. “I don’t worry about nothing. I put it all in God’s hands and go out and play.”

Second-year point guard Cory Joseph, who could face a similar situation at this time next season if the Spurs decline to pick up his third-year option, said he hasn’t seen Anderson’s sense of duty waver as a career crossroads nears.

“James is a professional, and he handles himself like a professional,” Joseph said. “He never gets down on himself. He never blames anyone else. He just controls what he can control.”

That approach has endeared him to the Spurs’ coaching staff.

“We’re still in love with James,” coach Gregg Popovich said

“It’s probably not correct to say I’m pulling for a guy,” Vaughn said, “but I’m pulling for him.”

Vaughn says he believes Anderson has what it takes to play in the NBA, if not with the Spurs, then somewhere.

“He has a lot of basketball left in him,” Vaughn said. “It’s (about) what he’s going to do from here on out. Hopefully, that’s good things.”

Still, Anderson acknowledges, it will be a bittersweet day when he’s forced to put away his Spurs uniform for good.

“Of course,” he said. “But life goes on.”

Vaughn on Magic short list: Vaughn is on the list of three finalists for the coaching job in Orlando, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

With Utah assistant Jeff Hornacek out of the running Monday, the pool of candidates to replace Stan Van Gundy is down to Vaughn, Philadelphia associate head coach Michael Curry and Phoenix assistant of player development Lindsay Hunter. Vaughn, 37, is considered the front-runner, the Sentinel reported.


Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN