SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black keep focus on 'big picture'

Gameday at a glance

Spurs (21-10) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (16-14)
When, where: Wednesday, 9 p.m., Portland
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Blazers 99, Spurs 98, April 10, Portland
Spurs’ last game: Beat Clippers 109-91, Monday, AT&T Center
Blazers’ last game: Lost to Timberwolves 108-107, Monday, Minneapolis
Spurs’ last 10 games, streak: 7-3, won two
Blazers’ last 10 games, streak: 4-6, lost one  
Notable: Spurs point guard Tony Parker now has more career victories (837) than Kobe Bryant. Parker’s win total ranks No. 8 in NBA history . . . Kyle Anderson (left MCL sprain) and Danny Green (tightness, left groin) are probable for Wednesday night’s game. Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) and Tony Parker (return from injury management) are both out. 

There’s really nothing complicated to the Spurs’ formula for success. They keep it simple.

As the grind of the NBA season wears on, the Silver and Black fall back on their mantra: It’s all about using the 82-game marathon to improve as a team and prepare for the playoffs.

“We’re all about trying to play the right way and get as many wins as we can, but more importantly, try to develop this group so we can get back to the playoffs and back to the Finals,” steady backup guard Patty Mills said earlier this week. “It’s all big-picture stuff for us.”

Ten games from the halfway mark of the regular season, the Spurs (21-10) get back to work Wednesday night when they start a three-game road trip against the Portland Trail Blazers (16-14). The game is the front end of a back-to-back for the Silver and Black, who play at Utah on Thursday.

Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, both coming back from serious quad injuries, will sit out the game against Portland and probably return to the lineup Thursday. Parker and Leonard will not play in back-to-back games while they’re in the team’s “injury recovery program.”

Parker missed the entire preseason and the Spurs’ first 19 games before making his debut Nov. 27. He has played in nine games since his return and performed well in a 109-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and seven assists.

Leonard had been sidelined with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps since the preseason. He made his debut in a road game against Dallas last Tuesday. Leonard played only 16 minutes in his third game back Monday, finishing with seven points and four rebounds before sitting out the entire second half.

Leonard had scored in double figures in 110 consecutive games before falling short Monday night. Leonard’s streak is the third longest in Spurs history, behind George Gervin (406) and David Robinson (157).

“It’s going to take some time,” Parker said, referring to developing chemistry with Leonard. “I think it’s his third game back, and only playing in the first half. Like I said, it’s going to take some time for him to get back his rhythm and then make sure everybody finds their role in the team. We’re definitely going to need Kawhi Leonard at his best if we want to do anything this year.”

Despite missing Parker and Leonard for such an extended period, the Spurs have remained among the top teams in the league’s Western Conference. They are third behind Houston (25-4) and defending champion Golden State (24-6).

“That’s a plus, that we’re able to be in a pretty good position, even though we’re not healthy and not winning as many games as we would like to,” starting guard Danny Green said. “We’re trying to get healthy as fast we possibly can, and get everybody back, get a flow.

“It’s tough. Guys on minute restrictions, guys in and out, can’t play back-to-backs. Hopefully by February, All-Star break, we should have everybody 100 percent. It’ll be great.”

Up next for the Spurs after Wednesday’s game: at Utah, Thursday, 9:30 p.m.
Next Spurs home game: vs. Brooklyn, Tuesday, Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m. 

© 2018 KENS-TV


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