Gameday at a glance
Spurs (27-13) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (20-18)
When, where: Sunday, 8 p.m., Portland
Season series: Spurs lead 1-0
Last meeting: Spurs 93, Blazers 91, Dec. 20, Portland
Spurs’ last game: Beat Suns 103-89 Friday, AT&T Center
Blazers’ last game: Beat Hawks 110-89, Friday, Portland
Spurs’ last 10 games, streak: 7-3, won one
Blazers’ last 10 games, streak: 5-5, won one
Notable: Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis), Kawhi Leonard (left shoulder strain) and Tony Parker (return from injury management) are out for Sunday night’s game, and Danny Green (tightness, left groin) is doubtful.
It was a question begging to be asked after 40-year-old Manu Ginobili scored a season-high 21 points in the Spurs' 103-89 victory against the Phoenix Suns.
Given how well he's played, inquiring minds wanted to do know if Ginobili did anything differently in the offseason that has factored into his consistently strong performance in the first half of the season.
"Yes, very different this year," Ginobili shaking his head up and down and grinning. "I didn't do anything. I thought I was going to retire and I took a two-month vacation. So if you want to look that I worked out, no, I just went to Spain for 47 days, thinking I wasn't going to come back."
"But then, mid-August, and September and October, I tried to work hard because I knew it was going to be hard. But the summer, I did the least in . . . ever. True."
Ginobili chuckled before continuing.
"It's a very bad example," he said, drawing laughter from the media gathered around him in the Spurs' locker room Friday night. "I know I'm not being a great leader and a great example at this point."
"But I think that at 40, you know, you can have some extra cheat days and take a summer off, and that's what I did. But I don't think it's the best idea. It's just what I did because, again, when I planned it, I didn't think I was coming back. Yeah, I didn't do much."
Ginobili will be counted on to spark the Spurs' bench yet again Sunday night when the Silver and Black start a three-game road trip Sunday in Portland. They play at Sacramento on Monday and face the Lakers on Thursday in Los Angeles.
Sunday night's game will mark the midway point of the regular season for the Spurs, who improved to 27-13 with the victory over the Suns. It also will be the second of the season in Portland for the Silver and Black, who edged the Trail Blazers 93-91 five days before Christmas.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who played with Portland for nine seasons before signing with the Spurs in July 2015, and Pau Gasol led the San Antonio scoring with 22 and 20 points, respectively. Ginobili and Patty Mills rounded out the team's double-figure scoring with 10 points apiece that night.
As has been the case throughout the season, the Silver and Black will be play Sunday night's game with a rotation missing players because of injury or rest.
Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis), Kawhi Leonard (left shoulder strain) and Tony Parker (return from injury management) are out, and Danny Green (left groin tightness) is doubtful.
Despite having to adjust to so many different lineups, the Spurs (27-13) have remained among the top teams in the rough-and-tumble Western Conference. They are third in the conference behind defending league champion Golden State (32-8) and Houston (27-11).
In Friday's win, Leonard tied Ginobili for high-point honors, finishing with 21 points and four steals. Ginobili hit 7 of 10 shots, including 3 of 4 from the three-point line, and dazzled the crowd by scoring the Silver and Black's last eight points of the third quarter. After scoring on a reverse layup with 1:11 left, Ginobili, who played 19 minutes, drained back-to-back threes 29 seconds apart to give the Spurs an 80-72 lead heading into the fourth period.
Gasol scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, and the Silver and Black led by double digits the rest of the way.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked about Ginobili's performance after Friday night's game.
"He's something else," Popovich said. "Whatever he's drinking, I want some of that. I'm serious. There's got to be a fountain of youth someplace."
In scoring 21 points against the Suns, Ginobili became the first player in NBA history to score 20+ points in less than 20 minutes at age 40 or older.
Ginobili also joined Vince Carter as the second player in league history age 40 or older to score 20+ points in a game off the bench. Carter turns 41 on Jan. 26 and is six months older than Ginobili, who was born on July 28, 1977.
In sports, as in life, sometimes less is more. In Ginobili's case, maybe he's fresher midway through the season because he didn't work anywhere as hard last summer as he has in the past.
"I did come fresh," Ginobili said, referring to how he felt when he started training camp. "I'm feeling good and I've said it already multiple times. I'm enjoying what I do. I'm not in pain. I'm being well taken care of by the staff, by Pop, not playing me that often or that much, and that really helps to feel good when I' m in the game."
Up next for the Spurs after Sunday's game: at Sacramento, Monday, 9 p.m.
Next home game for the Spurs: vs. Nuggets, Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
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