Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Splitter, Ford might return to action, Spurs still have a lot of work to do

The San Antonio Spurs have outdid themselves during the first half of the season finishing with a 24-10 record, good for second-best in the West and TNT analyst Charles Barkley picked the Spurs over the weekend to win the Western Conference.
After missing 24 games this season, T.J. Ford might be able to play Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls.
But it doesn’t mean the team is letting their guards down.
“I saw that,” Tony Parker said. “ But we have a lot of work to do and we need Manu Ginobili at 100 percent.
It’s like I told everybody at the All-Star break. We’re not going anywhere without Manu at 100 percent.
“Oklahoma City is a very, very good team. The Clippers are a very, very good. Dallas is good, too. We need everybody ready to go and at full strength. If not, we aren’t going to go anywhere.”
There is some good news too, the Spurs’ injury situation appears to be getting a little better (via Spurs Nation).
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said reserve point guard T.J. Ford could return to the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Chicago.
Ford has missed the last 24 games with a torn left hamstring.
“I’m feeling good. It’s still a process,” Ford said after Tuesday’s practice. “It felt good to finally practice with these guys, get out there and get a little contact. Usually I’m out there working with the coaches, one on one, so it felt good today.”
“I think he’s going to dress. He may or may not get in,” Popovich said. “I’d like to get him a few minutes if I can.”
That step would be a big boost for Ford, who signed with the Spurs as a free agent in order to boost depth at point guard.
“It will feel good to be in a uniform,” Ford said. “If it’s just me shooting some layups in layup drill I’ll take that. Little baby steps.”
But Ford said he doesn’t expected he could play for an extended period.
“Short, short,” Ford said with a chuckle. ” Not too many long stretches.”
But any break would be a boost for Parker, who has played extended minutes and leads the team with an average of 34.3 minutes per game. It’s the most that Parker has logged since his third season in the NBA.
”Yeah, it looks like he’s ready to go,” Parker said. “He practiced well this morning. Hopefully we can get everybody and be full strength.”
Rookie forward Kawhi Leonard missed practice as he recovered from tightness in both calves that he sustained in the Spurs’ most recent game Thursday night. The injury kept him out of the Rising Stars Challenge at All-Star weekend on the following day.
Popovich said that Gary Neal (hamstring) and Tiago Splitter (strained calf) will be game time decisions against the Bulls. Ginobili (strained oblique muscle) is out and Popovich hinted that Leonard likely will not play Wednesday night.

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