Thursday, February 19, 2009
As hopeful contenders around the NBA clamor to make themselves better at the trade deadline, the San Antonio Spurs would gladly settle for an acquisition from within.
First, though, they'll need Manu Ginobili's ankle to comply.
The Spurs will likely be without their star guard for a second straight game when they look to avoid a third consecutive loss for the first time since early November on Thursday night against the reeling Detroit Pistons.
Ginobili has had a variety of minor injuries throughout his seven-year NBA career, missing at least five games in every season. Offseason surgery on his left ankle forced him to miss the first 12 games in 2008-09, and he began experiencing pain in his right ankle prior to the All-Star break.
The NBA's reigning sixth man of the year didn't travel to New York on Tuesday as the Spurs (35-17) continued their eight-game rodeo trip, staying in San Antonio to undergo tests on the ankle.
The Spurs haven't released specific information about the injury, but it's unlikely Ginobili will be available for Thursday's game - the league's first after the 3 p.m. EST trading deadline - or the finale of the trip Saturday in Washington.
San Antonio, which was believed to have interest in New Jersey's Vince Carter and Milwaukee's Richard Jefferson, could have used some help with Ginobili sidelined against the Knicks. Tim Duncan missed a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation, then New York took control in overtime, winning 112-107.
"I got some shots to go down and started feeling good about it," said Duncan, who had 19 of his 26 points after halftime. "I wish the last one would've gone, too, but such is life."
While Duncan's last-second shot didn't fall, Tony Parker couldn't get anything to go down all night. Parker, one of the top shooters among guards in the league at 48.7 percent, was 5-of-20 and finished with 14 points.
Another loss in Detroit would give San Antonio its first three-game skid since opening the season 0-3.
The Spurs had their three stars healthy for their first matchup against Detroit (27-25) this season Dec. 2, but like many of their recent meetings with the Pistons, it didn't matter.
Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson each scored 19 points, and San Antonio let a fourth-quarter lead slip away in an 89-77 loss - its third straight and sixth in eight games to Detroit - that left coach Gregg Popovich unhappy.
"The most disturbing thing is that we were very soft," Popovich said. "I think Detroit intimidated us. It was really sad to watch in that respect. I thought we totally folded to their aggressive play."
The Pistons, though, haven't been intimidating anyone with their play lately. They've lost four in a row and are 5-13 since Jan. 10.
Detroit is 14-14 at The Palace after going 34-7 last season and has been dreadful there recently. A 92-86 loss to the Bucks on Tuesday was the Pistons' seventh in eight home games.
"You are supposed to play your best basketball at home, and we obviously aren't doing that," said Iverson, who had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting. "I don't think there's any focus.
"It's easy to be focused when you are on the road and have 20,000 of their fans cheering against you, but you can't come home and expect your fans to win the games for you. They help, but you've got to play."