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 Mavericks.
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.