Friday, November 14, 2008

Express News: Spurs' Close Losses Becoming Trend

By Jeff McDonald

For several minutes after the Spurs' 82-78 loss Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Tim Duncan sat in stone silence at his locker, staring at the wall on the other side of the visitor's locker room.

The Spurs had soundly blown an 11-point lead in the final 13 minutes, giving up a 21-2 run that ultimately gave the game to the Bucks — and gave rise to an all-too-familiar sinking feeling.

Three of the Spurs' five losses this season have come by five points or less, a spate of close-but-no-cigar games that players are doing their best to shrug off.

“There's no time to sit and sulk about it,” Duncan said. “We've dug ourselves a hole, and every game counts right now.”

Two of the Spurs' losses weren't close — by 17 to Dallas and 16 to Miami, the night Parker went down. In the other three, the Spurs were in position to win or tie in the closing seconds.

In a five-point loss to Phoenix in the season opener, Tony Parker and Duncan both missed 3-pointers in the final minute that would have tied it. In a one-point loss at Portland, Michael Finley had a chance to win it with a clean look at a short jumper as time expired.

Then came the latest defeat in Milwaukee. After the Spurs had squandered their lead, they rallied. Duncan had a chance to tie the game with five seconds to go, but missed a short jump hook.

With Parker and Manu Ginobili both out with ankle injuries, victories will be precious for the next several weeks. They can't help but feel like they've squandered a handful of prime opportunities already.

“Even with those guys out, we feel like we've got a good team,” guard Roger Mason Jr. said. “I think if we can learn from these situations, we'll be good. If we let these situations go by and don't take anything from them, then it's doubly bad.”

Tolliver time: For the time being, it appears rookie Anthony Tolliver has supplanted Matt Bonner in the Spurs' rotation.

Tolliver, a 6-foot-9 forward-center from Creighton, has logged at least 20 minutes in each of the past three games. Bonner, who started three of the first four games, did not play against Milwaukee after logging a combined 42 seconds in the two previous games.

Though only 4 of 18 from 3-point range in that span, Tolliver has averaged 7.3 points and infused the Spurs' second unit with some much needed athleticism.

“I consider myself a hard worker,” Tolliver said. “To get on the court, I need to bring energy. That's what I've been doing, and they've rewarded me for it.”

No comments:

Sports Top Blogs