Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Express News: Spurs' Win Doesn't Provide Answers


By Mike Monroe

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich likely will make some cuts when his club returns to San Antonio after the two-game road trip that began here last night with an 86-64 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Knowing this, he allotted significant playing time to each of the three young wing players trying to carve out a spot on the regular season roster.

The head coach’s fondest wish: “I’d love for somebody to make it impossible for me to cut him,” he said.

That probably didn’t happen Tuesday.

Nothing Popovich saw Tuesday placed Malik Hairston, Desmon Farmer or Devin Green on the uncuttable list. Each had good moments, and bad, against the Pistons.

But Popovich saw something late in the second half of his team’s first preseason victory that may change the dynamic of his roster evaluations altogether. Rookie point guard George Hill, after another impressive performance in the first half, suffered a sprained left thumb when he got tangled with Pistons big man Antonio McDyess under the Detroit basket.

“We’re not sure,” Popovich said, “but he may have either a bad sprain or a torn ligament. We’ll have to wait for the doctor on that and hope for the best.”

A torn ligament likely would sideline Hill for an extended period. That could present the evaluation process with an unanticipated detour.

The X-ray machine at Van Andel Arena, where Tuesday’s game was played, was inoperative, so the extent of Hill’s injury could not be determined. Hill will be examined today in Cleveland to diagnosis the extent of the injury.

Hill isn’t sure how he injured the thumb, only that it resulted as he tried to box out McDyess, a veteran power forward who is one of the NBA’s stronger post players.

“It got a little physical down there,” Hill said. “I’ll just wait for the exam tomorrow and hope for the best.”

Before suffering the injury, Hill had knocked down 3 of 5 shots, including 2 of 3 3-point attempts.

He scored eight points, with four assists.

“All in all,” Popovich said, “he’s showing more confidence all the time and more awareness of what we’re trying to do.”

All of which makes the wait for today’s examination of Hill’s thumb even more nerve-racking.

With starter Tony Parker sitting out Tuesday’s game with what Popovich called “an Achilles thing” — better described as minor soreness in the All-Star point guard’s left Achilles tendon — Popovich ended up giving big guard-small forward Ime Udoka some time at point guard in the second half.

“I didn’t want to overplay Jacque (Vaughn),” Popovich said, “so Ime got a little time at the point. He enjoys handling the ball. Though he’s not going to blow by anybody, he enjoys it, so we were able to do it for him tonight.”

Udoka scored all seven of his points while playing the point, and did a decent job of running the Spurs’ offense.

“I’ve played a little spot point guard here and there,” he said. “Once George got hurt, Pop told me to be ready to take over for Jacque. I just tried to keep the little fellows off me. It would have been easier if all the other vets had been out there with me, but we managed to maintain the lead, so it worked out all right.”

The Spurs never trailed against the Pistons, who had won their first four preseason games. The Spurs held them scoreless through the first 41/2 minutes of the game, then limiting Detroit to eight points in the third period.

As for the evaluation of the three young wing players trying to make the roster, Popovich said he was no closer to a decision than he had been before Tuesday’s tipoff.

“They’re all competing very well,” he said, “trying to play the best basketball they can and trying to make the basketball team.

“All three of them are making it very difficult on us. They’re all playing very good basketball, each doing different things. It makes it a hard evaluation.”

As if we haven't already had enough bad news, looks like Hill is now making the bench even more crowded this an injured thumb. Hopefully things don't turn out to be too serious, because he was turning out to be a bright spot of this exhibition season, and was making quick strides towards earning the backup point guard spot.

No comments:

Sports Top Blogs