Saturday, November 15, 2008

Express News: Bonner's 3-pointers spark Spurs' decisive late charge

By Mike Monroe - Express-News

Don’t ask Spurs coach Gregg Popovich what prompted him to give forward Matt Bonner a healthy dose of playing time in Friday’s game against the Houston Rockets at the AT&T Center after keeping him chained to the bench in the previous two games.

Popovich isn’t in the habit of explaining his personnel decisions.

After his most productive game of the season, though, Bonner is apt to get another early call in Sunday’s game at Sacramento.

Bonner played 19 minutes and 37 seconds in the Spurs’ dramatic, 77-75 victory over the Rockets, and that included some key time in the fourth period. he made two 3-pointers in the final 4:20, when the Spurs reeled off 12 unanswered points to complete a comeback from a 14-point deficit for just their second home win of the season.

“Matt did a fine job,” Popovich said. “He was aggressive offensively. He focused well on defense and helped us win the basketball game.”

Mahinmi to Austin: The Spurs finally got one of their injured players cleared to begin five-on-five drills, but help for their shorthanded roster remains a few weeks away.

Power forward-center Ian Mahinmi has been assigned to the Spurs’ NBA Development League team, the Austin Toros. The right ankle he sprained in September is finally healed to the point he can begin contact drills.

Mahinmi will use his time with the Toros to get in basketball condition and complete the rehabilitation process on his ankle.

The Toros are in training camp, undergoing two-a-day drills.

“He’s going to practice once, instead of twice a day,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, “and scrimmaging on a limited basis to begin with. But at least he’s out on the court, doing something.”

“He’s got to get in shape and get his rhythm back. He’s going to play, and that’s better than having him sit on the bench up here, that’s for sure.”

There is no timetable for Mahinmi’s potential return to the Spurs roster.

The 22-year-old big man from France split time during his rookie season between San Antonio and Austin, but spent the bulk of the season in the D-League. He averaged 16.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 46 games with the Toros in 2008.

Laugh lines: Asked what former Spur Brent Barry brought to the Rockets when he signed a free agent contract with them this summer, Rockets All-Star Tracy McGrady didn’t hesitate before blurting, “Humor. A lot of humor. He keeps us laughing.”

Barry was suited up for Friday’s game, but Adelman said he was unlikely to play because of a sprained right thumb.

Barry wasn’t even able to be a stand-up comic Friday because of a touch of laryngitis.

McGrady said Barry’s real value to the Rockets has been his leadership.

“He’s a guy who knows the game,” he said, “and he’s been on championship teams. He knows where the ins and outs are.”

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