It's amazing what a little R&R can do for the body. Just ask veteran San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili.
The last time fans saw Ginobili in a game was Feb. 13 when he walked off the court in the third quarter of a 117-109 loss in Denver after feeling a tweak in his right foot. The game was the Silver and Black's last before the All-Star break, giving Ginobili some extra time to shake off the injury.
Although X-rays were negative, Ginobili said Thursday that his foot was sore for about 48 hours before it got better. For a team that's struggled with injuries since the preseason, the sight of Ginobili going to the training room during a game had to be unsettling.
“I was pretty worried when It happened because I’ve never felt anything like that in the bottom of my foot,” Ginobili said after Thursday's workout. “Every time I was putting weight on it, it felt like a pinch. So, I stopped. We went to the X-ray and everything was fine, so it was just a matter of resting a little bit and it was fine again."
As it turned out, a few days vacationing in Costa Rica with his wife and three sons was just what the doctored order.
“I guess walking on the sand really helped the rehab, work on those muscles," Ginobili said smiling. “Sand, sun, walks, hikes, great. I'm fine now.”
Ginobili will be on the floor Friday night when the Spurs (35-24) resume their Rodeo Road Trip against the Denver Nuggets (32-26). The loss to the Nuggets on the night before Valentine's Day was the third in a row for the Silver and Black, who are 1-5 in February.
The Spurs will have every player available Friday except All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, who remains sidelined with tendinopathy in his right quadriceps. The team's leading scorer the past two seasons, Leonard has played in only nine games during the 2017-18 campaign.
Coach Gregg Popovich gave Spurs fans a jolt Wednesday when he said he would be "surprised" to see Leonard return to play this season.
Leonard reportedly has been cleared to play by the Spurs' medical staff, but he reportedly sought a second opinion on his injury in New York before the All-Star break and has remain sidelined.
While Ginobili is still holding out hope that Leonard can come back and play, he stressed the importance of the team being prepared to play the remainder of the season without him.
“The mindset is more clear than before,” Ginobili said. "At this point of the season, there’s only  games left. We’ve got to face the rest of the season as if he isn’t coming back. If he comes back, great. It’s an easier adjustment than just hoping every day.
"We got Rudy [Gay] back. Pau [Gasol] has been great. Everybody has been giving their best. We had a tough stretch the last couple of weeks, but we’re optimistic. We feel that we can start playing better and we’ll see.”
Gay, a veteran forward, was signed by the Spurs last summer to back up Leonard. He has missed the team's last 23 games with bursitis in his right heel, but he has practiced the last two days and said Wednesday that he is ready to play.
The Silver and Black have had other players besides Leonard and Gay sidelined with injuries. Point guard Tony Parker missed the first month and a half of the season as he recovered from offseason surgery to repair the ruptured tendon in his left quadriceps. Starting guard Danny Green (groin), backup center Joffrey Lauvergne (sprained ankle) and forward Kyle Anderson (knee sprain) also have been sidelined.
Anderson has subbed for Leonard for most of the season.
“What’s you gonna do?” Ginobili said when asked about the spate of injuries. “We can’t be complaining and crying and feeling bad for ourselves. Every team in the history of the game has had injuries some years, so if that’s what’s up for us this year, it’s fine. We can’t be complaining. We can’t be feeling bad for ourselves. We’ve just got to go fight, play our best game, and play our best hand with the cards we have.”