In their last contest, the San Antonio Spurs avenged their
last season first round playoff exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks with
a gutsy 92-83 victory. With All-Stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker sidelined with
minor ankle ailments, Coach Pop found more minutes for some of the new Spurs
resulting in a defensive minded starting lineup of George Hill, Keith Bogans,
Richard Jefferson, DeJuan Blair, and Antonio McDyess. RJ and Bogans in
particular sparked the Spurs with solid defense and combined 42 points.
In recent games the highlight of San
Antonio's young Jeffersonian era has been the presence
of a Spur who can consistently and emphatically dunk. Since injuries have
somewhat grounded Manu Ginobili over the past couple of seasons, the Spurs have
lacked an athletic player who defies gravity and injects enthusiasm onto the
offensive end of the floor. Bat swatting aside, San
Antonio's signature plays in this young campaign have
been a pair of slams by RJ, first over Greg Oden, and later against a pair of
Also impressive has been sophomore point guard George Hill
who will be handling quarterback duties until Tony Parker returns. Since this
year's Summer League, Hill has exuded confidence on the court and displayed a
remarkable command of the offense, along the way becoming Coach Pop's favorite
player. After payback against Dallas and their reviled owner Mark Cuban,
Hill was his usual calm self.
"It wasn't because we were playing the Mavericks, we knew we
had to play better defense to win," Hill told reporters after the game. "We had
a chip on our shoulder since we gave up lots of points versus Toronto.
We took a step forward tonight. Intensity was the biggest difference. We took
things away like their passing lanes and made them uncomfortable. It was a team
effort and everyone stepped up. We have to keep taking steps and always stay
positive and try to get better and keep our focus."
Next up for the Spurs are the Oklahoma City Thunder and young
NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Over the summer, Durant became a basketball media
darling whose upside supposedly now dwarfs that of LeBron James. Around these
parts, Durant is celebrated for keeping the UT hoops program relevant which for
Longhorns who celebrate his visit as a homecoming is enough for now.