After missing 22 games with a broken left hand, San Antonio Spurs star guard Manu Ginobili is trying to play his way back into shape after his first three games since returning to action February 11 at New Jersey.
“I’m a little tired,” Ginobili said. “My legs are a little sore after the long lockout and the short training camp.” (Hat tip Spurs Nation)
Even before his injury, Ginobili said his conditioning suffered.
“In the four games before I got hurt, I wasn’t even there in great shape and sitting for 40 days didn’t help me,” Ginobili said. “That’s why I have to be patient, take it easy and let the game come to me slowly. I’m not looking forward to too many things, taking too many shots. Just let it come to me.”
With the Spurs’ depth, Ginobili said he doesn’t feel it’s necessary to rush back into the team’s offense.
“I’m not ready to take over a game or get five minutes or make decisions very often. I need time,” Ginobili said.”I guess I want to push too hard and I fall or I dribble on my toes or that I’m out of rhythm.
“So, at this point, I’m trying to just contribute, little things, try to get a steal on a pass, a charge, a rebound. I’m going to shoot, but I’m not going to be forcing a lot of shots right now.”
Meanwhile, Spurs’ backup point guard T.J. Ford went through his most extensive workout of his rehabilitation Friday as he prepares to return from the lineup after recovering from a torn left hamstring.
Despite his extensive work with Cory Joseph for about 20 minutes after practice ended, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that Ford won’t play until after the All-Star break and the Rodeo Road Trip concludes.
“He’s not ready,” Popovich said. “This is his first contact, one-one one. Two-on-two will be next, that kind of thing.”
Ford was injured in the Spurs’ January 10 loss at Milwaukee. The Spurs have posted a 15-5 record since his injury.
But Tony Parker’s playing time and scoring have zoomed without Ford in the rotation.
In the first nine games before Ford’s injury, Parker averaged 27.3 minutes per game and 15.9 points per game.
In his last 20 games without Ford to share in the playing time, Parker is averaging 37.5 minutes per game and 20.4 points per game.
While Parker has done a terrific job in Ford’s absence, having his primary backup the soonest should be a welcome change for the Tony.
At some point, the Spurs’ All-Star point guard will need some rest, considering the compacted schedule this season.