Tag:Gregg Popovich
Posted on: February 19, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2011 1:25 pm

Tim Duncan: NBA All-Star elder, feeling young

San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan is the oldest member of the 2011 NBA's Western Conference All-Star team, but he's fighting back againsttim-duncan Father Time. Posted by Ben Golliver.

LOS ANGELES -- At 34 years old, San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan now officially stands as the old guard NBA All-Star, the senior member of the 2011 West’s team and the second oldest All-Star overall.

But if there was a year for Duncan to feel younger than his age this would be it. After getting bounced in the second round last year and the first round the year before, his Spurs entered the All-Star break with a league-best record of 46-10, all while Duncan has seen his role reduced to the point that he’s playing under thirty minutes for the first time in his career. 

That combination of winning and a lighter load had Duncan in a jovial mood on All-Star Friday, even as he sat one table over from Carmelo Anthony, his small, mostly local media contingent dwarfed by the media madhouse jockeying for the latest from the Denver's All-Star with the uncertain future. 

Casually dressed, Duncan surveyed the madness with a shake of the head, looking glad that he wasn't in the middle of it and a touch annoyed that he had been seated next to it. It didn't bother him for long, though, and he went back to fiddling with his iPhone like his 20-something teammates (“My wife is more important than you guys”) and played along when a reporter joked that he must have threatened to walk out on the rest of the season if Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn’t name him as a replacement for Yao Ming in the West’s starting lineup on Sunday ("That got out?”).

You don’t play more than 1,000 career games and 170 career playoff games without developing a perspective that favors drama-free steadiness and experience, and Duncan settled back into that role quickly, repeatedly pointing to the importance of his team’s health and making it clear the Spurs are focused on making a title run in a crowded field of elders this year.

“A lot of the best teams in the league right now have an older core,” Duncan said. “If we’re healthy enough and we’re able to stay healthy I think we have a good chance to be a contender. We’ve been blessed enough to be healthy with our starting lineup, the core of our team, and it’s shown. We went through a bit of a rough one last year but we had a lot of the same core guys and that experience is paying off a bunch right now … I feel as healthy as I have been in 3, 4, 5 years.”

Given his reduced role, Duncan has averaged career-lows in points (13.4) and rebounds (9.2) this season. Despite the statistical decline, he made a convincing case that he can still reach top speed when necessary. “I do believe I can double-double any time. I can do 20-10 just about … well, not any time, but I can get those kinds of numbers on some nights. That’s not what I’m being asked to do right now. My role has changed, I’m kind of a different player. I’m working with what I’ve got.”

What Duncan’s got also includes experience going through an NBA labor negotiation, and he said he feels an obligation to the league’s younger players to get involved, although he wouldn’t commit to specific plans. “We went through the lockout when I was in my second year in the league. A lot of the older guys kind of stepped up and knew what it was about, and I want to make sure I can do that for the future generation of NBA players. Stepping up and doing my part in that respect.”

That stuff, it was clear, remains on his personal back burner for the moment, as he's focused on seeing through his team's best start in memory. “All we ever worry about are the chances right in front of us. We’re not worrying about the years in the future or the years past. This year, right in front us, we’re playing great. It’s the opportunity we have to focus on right now.”

And don’t for a second thing Duncan is totally resigned to Father Time just yet. He still feels like he’s got some time left before midnight.

“It’s been our ‘last chance’ for our last three, four or five years. That’s what everybody keeps telling us. I can’t say it’s our last chance, but it’s as good a chance as we’ve had in years.”

Posted on: February 14, 2011 2:33 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2011 2:45 pm

Popovich: Winning is 'boring as hell'

Posted by Royce Young

The Spurs are awesome. At a league-best 45-9, San Antonio is the ultimate take-care-of-business team. They're veteran led, have superb role players and all understand the system perfectly.

It's almost like the team can't fail.

But it's getting for Gregg Popovich. When you get almost the same result every night, there's no spice, nothing to work on, nothing to Jazz things up.

Take it away, San Antonio News-Express:
For Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the first 52 games of the season have played like his own personal Groundhog Day. Every night, he dispatches the same starting lineup, uses mostly the same rotation, calls mostly the same plays, usually watches another Spurs’ victory, then goes home and eats dinner. Ho hum.

“It’s like I don’t have a job anymore,” Popovich said.

Popovich, it seems, has discovered a downside to a 44-8 record.

“It’s boring as hell,” he said. The upside? Popovich says the Spurs’ apparent shift to autopilot has freed up more time for his real passions. “Wine and reading,” Popovich said.

And if you believe any of that, Popovich has a bridge in wine country to sell you. Players say Popovich has been just as engaged this season as last, when he started 25 different lineups and the Spurs had to struggle just to make the playoffs as a seventh seed.

But what Popovich is driving at with that mentality is that you can't settle. They may be 45-9 and already have enough wins to make the playoffs, but there's always room to get better. Plus, as you can imagine with Popovich, tongue was firmly planted in cheek for those comments I'm sure.

The funny thing is, after Popovich said that, he switched up the starting lineup following a loss at Philadelphia puting George Hill in the first five. Just adding a little sizzle, I suppose.

Last season the Spurs were 31-21 at this same point. While that might not have been boring, I'm sure it wasn't near as satisfying as this season. The Spurs have had the boring tag put on them for a while. They play boring, their stars are boring, they win boring. And while Coach Pop feels it too, I'm thinking he likes the boring quite a bit.

Category: NBA
Posted on: January 26, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 6:24 pm

Poor Coach Popovich has to coach the All-Stars

Posted by Matt Moore

You know who has two thumbs and doesn't give a crap about the All-Star game?

This guy. 

Unfortunately, for Pop, he'll be coaching the All-Star Game after his team locked up the best record in the West at the deadline. From the San Antonio News-Express
Monday’s victory at Golden State ensured the Spurs will have the Western Conference’s top record by the Feb. 6 deadline to select All-Star coaches, meaning Popovich will be drafted into working the Feb. 20 midseason extravaganza in Los Angeles.

It marks the second All-Star nod for Popovich, who also coached the 2005 West squad. He is 0-1, having lost to the East that year 125-115.

Nobody seems giddier at the prospect of seeing Popovich prowl the Staples Center sideline than Spurs star Tim Duncan.“He’s been talking all season about how he wants to make sure he gets that position,” Duncan said, with tongue planted in cheek.“I think he’s really excited about it.”

So far, Popovich is saying all the right things, calling his All-Star selection, “a great honor.”
via Spurs Nation » Popovich gets seat on All-Star bench.

Somehow you have to think if you ask him about going to the dentist he'd call it "a great honor." Since he probably has as much enthusiasm. Popovich isn't one for platitudes or pageantry, which is most of what the All-Star game is. There's not only no concerted need to effort towards victory, there's a distinct demand to avoid contact in order to prevent injury. It's pretty much the opposite of what Popovich likes to teach, like to preach, what he brings to his team. And with Duncan only a slight favorite to make the team out of respect, and both Parker and Ginobili longshots, he won't even be coaching his guys. Not that there's much coaching to be done. 

Can't you imagine Popovich walking into practice on Saturday morning, waiting till the press leaves, sitting down, opening a paper, and waving his hand dismissively. "Shoot, or whatever." 

But hey, I'm sure the gift bags are nice, and the wine selection's probably killer out there. 
(HT: Basketball Jones)
Posted on: January 4, 2011 11:04 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2011 11:31 pm

Bizarre coaching events abound

Strange coaching occurrences in New York, Miami.
Posted by Matt Moore

Two strange pieces of coaching news occurred in the NBA Tuesday night, one in Miami where two techs does not equal an ejection, and one in New York, where the fat lady didn't sing, but it was over anyway apparently.

The Heat came back from a halftime deficit, again, to beat the Bucks 101-89. Scott Skiles was whistled for your run of the mill technical foul for getting all Skiles-like on the sideline in the first half. In the second half, Skiles accidentally made contact with a player on the floor, earning him a second technical. So two techs equals an automatic ejection, right? Except the officials ruled that the second technical was not on account of "unsportsmanlike conduct" which is requisite for an ejection, and therefore Skiles got to stay. Very strange all around. Not as strange as the continuing collapse of the Bucks after such a great 2010 season, but still pretty odd.

Even more bizarre, however, was Gregg Popovich's decision to pull his starters with 3:13 remaining in the 4th down by only 10 to the Knicks. The Spurs' defense was horrific all night to be sure, allowing over 100 points in three-quarters. But the Spurs were still hanging in a very Spurs way, when suddenly, apparently Popovich had seen enough from his team and pulled Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Richard Jefferson. The Spurs' offense featured Chris Quinn, Gary Neal, and Ime Udoka down the stretch. In shocking news, the Knicks hung on over that mighty lineup, 128-115 .

Some speculated that Popovich was merely resting his starters for Wednesday night's game against the Boston Celtics.  But judging from the behavior of Manu and Parker on the sideline, Pop was making a point. I guess at 29-45, Pop felt he could spare a win in order to make a point. Either way, New York managed to hold on against a playoff contender at home.

In other news, Kevin Durant missed a three-pointer to tie, the lion laid down with the lamb, and a bad moon is rising. Run for your lives!
Posted on: January 3, 2011 7:29 pm
Edited on: January 3, 2011 7:32 pm

CBSSports.com NBA Videos: 01.03.2011

2011's first weekly dose of CBSSports.com NBA video content. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Welcome to the first week of 2011, and here's the year's first serving (a big helping) of CBSSports.com NBA video content. 

Get it started with the Starting Five, a question and answer rundown of some of this week's hot topics. Yours truly joined hosts Adam Aizer and Greg Urbano to discuss the injury to Kevin Garnett, the Miami Heat's surge, the Houston Rockets' playoff chances and whether Chicago can contend. Also, do the San Antonio Spurs have what it takes to win 72 games? 

Take a look and have a listen.

Also this week, Aizer and Urbano break down the NBA Coach of the Year race to date. Texas shows well in the discussion, with Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich among the leaders. 

But, wait, there's more. The guys also discussed their weekly power rankings, which you can watch right here

And if you're looking for even more NBA audio content with a fantasy focus, check out this week's CBSSports Fantasy Basketball Podcast, which discusses recent injuries to Mavericks forward Caron Butler and New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari. You can also read more on Gallinari's knee sprain here.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 2:41 am

The ballad of Gary Neal

Undrafted first-year player lighting it up for Spurs as they take down Dirk-less Mavericks
Posted by Matt Moore

When I tried talking to then-Spurs-assistant-GM, now-Hornets-GM Dell Demps in Summer League about the sharp shooting perimeter speedster on the Spurs' SL squad, Gary Neal, he got a grin on his face. The kind of look the fox gets when he hears the farmer as he reaches the henhouse while the fox is safely in the woods. Neal lit up Vegas, but like so many players, no one thought much of it. After all, that was summer league. How good can a guy who was undrafted and spent two years in Europe, really be?

Turns out pretty good. Neal was instrumental in the Spurs' win over the Dirk-less Mavericks Thursday night. Neal hit five of his eight three point attempts on his way to 21 points. It was the same kind of performance who caught scouts' eyes at Summer League and the kind of performance that Tim Duncan (courtesy of the San Antonio Express) says has "taken" his teammates' respect:

Duncan on Gary Neal, who now has three 20-point games in six: "He hasn't earned our respect, he's taken it. He's a stone-cold shooter."
via Twitter / Jeff McDonald: Duncan on Gary Neal, who n ....

Stone-cold, indeed. Neal is averaging 16 points per 36 minutes and shooting 38% from the arc. He's been the kind of player the Spurs always seem to find, who come in, fill their role, play within themselves, and produce. Neal's perimeter speed was on display in Vegas, as he jetted off curl screens to find his way to open shots. Neal also possesses that ability to make the little plays, as he did in the fourth quarter on a broken play, catching a desperation kick-out with time running down and calmly nailing a dagger. Neal before Zod. That he's doing it with so little experience only exaggerates the legend. 

Neal split his college time between La Salle and Towson, before winding up in Europe. Now he's downing the Mavericks with ridiculous shooting and fitting in on Pop's team. If there's a guy more fun to root for in the NBA right now, it's hard to see. Neal's no feel-good case, he's a legit assassin, as Timmy pointed out, and the kind of player that the Spurs have used to win championships. Yet another chamber loaded for the Spurs.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 1:54 pm

The best in Texas right now? Has to be the Spurs

Posted by Royce Young

If you want to just do this all simple like, start with the standings. San Antonio is 27-4, which is the best record in the league. Dallas, while owners of a very nice 24-6 record, is two and a half games back of the Spurs.

So we're done here, right?

Actually, there's a lot more to it.

No doubt the Mavericks good. Really good. Forget that loss to the Raptors without Dirk. Every good team loses to someone they shouldn't. And when you're missing your very best player, you've got a good excuse too. But what separates San Antonio from Dallas right now is that the Spurs don't have a Dirk.

Wait, I know what you're thinking. That should make the Mavericks better , right? Not having a great, MVP-type player like Dirk Nowitzki is what makes San Antonio better than Dallas? Does not compute, right?

But it does. Because the Spurs are 27-4 despite not having a guy score 20 points a game. The Spurs are 27-4 with Tim Duncan averaging career-lows all over the place. The Spurs just whipped the defending champion Lakers with Duncan scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds. Tim Duncan, two points, four rebounds! Can you ever imagine the Spurs beating a good team five years ago with Duncan playing like that?

The Spurs are 27-4 because of Gary Neal. Because of Richard Jefferson's rebirth. Because of DeJuan Blair. Because of Matt Bonner. No team understands the role player concept and how each guy has value more than San Antonio. That team works completely in unison. It's like an engine on a 2001 Honda Civic. Nothing all that spectacular, nothing all that flashy. But everything works perfectly together.

Not to say the Spurs don't have some serious players though. You could make a legitimate case for Manu Ginobili as an MVP candidate. He's been the glue for San Antonio the past decade and when he's healthy like he is currently, he one the biggest X-factors in the league. Tony Parker is healthy again and playing at an All-Star caliber level. George Hill is one of the most underrated combo guards in the league.

And then there's the trump card for the Spurs. It starts with a "g," ends with two more "g's" and a frown. Rick Carlisle is a nice NBA coach, but he's not Gregg Popovich. Coach Pop is one of the few NBA coaches that you really know makes a difference with his team. Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan, Vinny Del Negro (just kidding)... only a handful of coaches genuinely make their team better despite who's on the roster. Popovich is the leader of that pack. His team's are always ready, always prepared and always focused. Look at the Spurs' home record this season (18-2 and undefeated in December). That shows that his team is never not ready.

Popovich wasn't afraid to make a subtle switch either. San Antonio is running more than ever despite that not being the ideal game for Duncan. But it works for the other pieces and Duncan has adapted. The Spurs are averaging almost 106 points per game, which is fourth in the league. Their point differential is an impressive +8.4 compared to the Mavs' +5.6.

Those things are tangible parts to settling this debate. But it's not always about what meets the eye with the Spurs. They're the league's best and by default, Texas's best, because they march to the company line that's carried them to four titles. There's a reason they're great, even if it's not painfully obvious.
Posted on: December 17, 2010 1:40 am
Edited on: August 14, 2011 9:38 pm

Manu draws game-winning charge on Carmelo

Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was called for a charge into Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs that erased a potential game-winning basket at the buzzer. Posted by Ben Golliver

It was a wild finish in Denver on Thursday night, as the Nuggets had a potential game-winning Carmelo Anthony basket wiped off by a controversial charge call in the game's final seconds, allowing the San Antonio Spurs to escape with a road win, 113-112.  The Nuggets trailed by one with 4.2 seconds and set up a side inbounds play that resulted with Anthony receiving the inbounds pass near the top of the key. Anthony was single-covered by Spurs forward Richard Jefferson, and drove hard to his left into the paint. In a blink of an eye, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili slid over from the weakside, establishing his feet outside the protected circle in the paint and kept his arms straight up. Anthony barrelled into him as he completed his shooting motion, and the ball went into the basket as the final buzzer went off.  The Nuggets celebrates as if they thought the basket counted and the game would end 114-113 in their favor. Unfortunately for the Nuggets and their Pepsi Center faithful, two referees called, without hesitation, a player control or "charging" foul on Anthony for running over Ginobili. .4 seconds were put back on the clock, but San Antonio inbounded the ball without incident and the game ended. While this is obviously a heart-breaking way to lose, it does appear the officials made the correct call here, as Ginobili established position, was outside of the circle and did not initiate the contact. The only other call, which is more often seen, would have been a no-call, which Nuggets coach George Karl and his team surely would have preferred.   Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and his troops can surely breathe a sigh of relief tonight thanks to Ginobili, who also scored San Antonio's final basket on the previous possession to provide the winning margin. His heroics on both ends tonight come just one night after he was the savior in San Antonio, downing the Milwaukee Bucks with a last-second step-back jumper on Wednesday night.
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