“I don’t think all the guys could remember what Pop said at halftime tonight,” Spurs guard Brent Barry said after the contest. “He reminds us that things aren’t always going to go well but you have to fight through it and that you’re not going to beat every team in this league, but you got to grind out wins and stick to our guns.”
Perhaps more than any other championship defending campaign, this year has illustrated the targets painted on the Spurs' collective backs and how much larger they grow when injuries strike. The team’s leading scorer, NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker, has steadily labored through a nagging bone spur. Tim Duncan, the foundation for the Spurs' dynasty, overcame a nasty looking leg injury earlier in the season yet at times appears to be playing in Robert Horry-esque cruise control. Ginobili himself has been battling the usual assortment of bumps and bruises that accompany his relentless style of play but was still the most exciting player on the floor, despite the presence of Kobe Bryant.
“The Spurs stepped up the pressure during the third quarter and we were unable to handle it,”
The next evening, the Spurs survived a squeaker against the lowly Miami Heat, thanks to Ginobili’s late-game heroics, and Tim Duncan was named to his 10th all-star game. Barring some major surprises,
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