Manu listed as out for the start of the season against Hornets

Spurs Guard troubled with back spasms

When the San Antonio Spurs take the floor this Thursday for the 2012/13 Season Opener, they will be without Guard Manu Ginobili in the lineup.  Manu, who averaged 52.6% from the field last season will be missed.

The Spurs will have become accustomed to playing and winning without Ginobili and this season there is a plethora of guards waiting to play some minutes and get some experience.  Nando De Cola, Danny Green and  Kawhi Leonard along with Stephen Jackson will all be vying for those minutes which can only help the Spurs, one of the older statesmen of the league.

Be sure to get your Spurs tickets to the home opener Thursday November 1st against the Oklahoma City Thunder.


With only one roster spot left, who will be the next Spur?

There are four players vying for the final roster spot for the 2012-13 Spurs Roster and each are making the case with their play.  Here is a quick rundown of who is on the cusp.

Eddie Curry – An 11 year veteran that spent four seasons with the Bulls, four with the Knicks and most recently played last season with the Miami Heat.  Curry has had weight issues and spent the summer slimming down and working on his game.  The Spurs do have a need of another big man.

“I feel I’m in a good situation,” Curry told the San Antonio Express-News. “I worked hard this summer. Every game it’s just about showing everybody what I can do. I’m trying to focus on defense and rebounding, trying to play in the system and soak up as much as I can. I think I’m going to make it. Until they tell me I’m not, I feel like I’m part of this team.”

Derrick Brown – After receiving several invitations to camp with NBA teams, Brown chose the Spurs even though there was really only one roster spot to be had.  The three-year veteran, selected as the 40th overall draft pick in 2009 by the Charlotte Bobcats  played with them until 2011. He then signed on with the Knicks in March of 2011 but returned to the Bobcats in December of 2011 up until the end of the 2012 season.  The Bobcats made him an unrestricted free agent and  he signed on with the Spurs. Steven Jackson, a former teammate with the Bobcats had high praise for the journeyman who is averaging seven points in 15.7 minutes a game.

“He actually gave (one-time All-Star) Gerald Wallace a run for his money every day in practice,” Jackson said. “I think that’s what opened a lot of people’s eyes that he belongs in this league.”

Josh Powell – Veteran forward who’s NBA career began with the Dallas Mavericks in 2005.  Powell,  originally slotted to be the forward groomed to take over for  Dirk Nowitzki, was traded to the Pacers along with Darrell Armstrong and Rawlee Marshall in exchange for Anthony Johnson.  Powell, along with current Spur Stephen Jackson and two other players were dealt to the Golden State Warriors.  He next played for the Clipppers then the Lakers where he got considerable playing time for an injured Andrew Bynum.  After winning two Rings with the Lakers, Powell next signed on with the Hawks for the 2010/11 season.  The push for Powell and Curry was something Manu Ginobili recently spoke about.

“There are 13 returning guys, so there aren’t many that can surprise you. But, of course, having Josh Powell and Eddy Curry on the roster is a big thing,” Ginobili said. “They’re both great players, talented bigs that (aren’t) easy to find in the league anymore. So, it’s good to have them around and give them a chance.”

Wesley Witherspoon -Rookie guard/forward combo out of Memphis has made the most of his rookie camp recently scoring 17-points in a start against the Houston Rockets. He has had to shed the  title of being ‘soft’ as in not doing everything he can to improve himself and with the Rockets game, he may have just done that.




Pop wants Spurs to remember ‘nasty’ feeling

By Jeff McDonald

Four months later, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is still asking for some nasty.

His players say they are ready and willing to oblige.

“A lot of people still see us as the nice Spurs,” point guard Tony Parker said. “This year, I think we need to play like we’re hungry and we want it.”

It is a question of attitude and a question of identity, which Popovich believes the Spurs surrendered in the final four games of last year’s playoff ejection against Oklahoma City.

That “nasty” Popovich asked for and received during a memorable timeout in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals is what the Spurs aim to channel into a full 82-game slate this season.

“Everybody needs to eat some gunpowder before every game,” said forward Stephen Jackson, who often plays as if he’s ingested an entire arsenal. “We need to be more fired up, a tougher team.”

It would be overkill to suggest tonight’s preseason opener against Italian team Montepaschi Siena at the ATT Center represents the opening salvo of the Spurs’ own personal hunger games.

But it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Siena to practice a duck-and-cover drill beforehand, just to be safe.

Popovich’s intent from the start of training camp — which began with a film-session flashback of last summer’s collapse against the Thunder — has been to nurture a growing chip on the shoulder of his players.

“We have to stop saying, ‘Oh, we won a lot of championships and we’ll come back,’?” Parker said. “We have to play with more attitude — like Pop said, more nasty — all season long.”

Nasty lasted for about two games of last year’s series with OKC, as the Spurs watched their 2-0 lead dissolve into a six-game ouster that propelled the Thunder to the NBA Finals for the first time.

“There was an identity theft that took place in that playoff,” Popovich said. “We played like the Spurs the first couple of games. Oklahoma City, I believe, learned from that and they played like we did offensively, sharing the ball and trusting their teammates, and we lost our identity.

“I want to make sure we understand that and get that back.”

Popovich hopes that nasty attitude will manifest itself most often on the defensive end this season. For the 16th consecutive fall, he opened training camp vowing to improve the Spurs’ mercurial ability to guard people.

As the Spurs have transformed into a more offensive-oriented team in recent years, their defensive standing has declined.

In 2011-12, they ranked second in the NBA by scoring 103.7 points per game. Defensively, they were below the league average in both points allowed (96.5 per game) and field-goal percentage defense (44.8 percent).

“We’ve got to do our best to become a better defensive team,” Popovich said. “That’s easy to say, but it’s more about a consistency that we didn’t have.”

A fair question: How can a team that made limited personnel changes, bringing back 13 players from last year’s squad, expect to make those strides?

“It’s just an all-around team focus on being a defensive ballclub,” power forward Tim Duncan said. “I think the last couple years, our focus has kind of been on offense, trying to up our tempo and be more of a scoring team. We want to keep that, obviously. But defensively, we’re going to have to be better.”

As the Spurs proved for a brief shining moment last June, there’s no problem an attitude adjustment can’t fix.

Their season of nasty begins tonight.
Twitter: @JMcDonald_SAEN