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 2011-01-04, 12:28  #1
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默认Top 10 Spurs 2010 news stories

Signings of Manu and TP rank as Spurs’ top story of 2010

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

Most observers always thought that Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker both wanted to remain with the Spurs.

But as free agency approached with both members of San Antonio’s starting backcourt, there was always a sense of fear in Spurs Nation that both would want to leave for greener basketball opportunities.

Ginobili had been trapped in a below-market contract before his most recent negotation. Because of that, the thought was that Ginobili would flee the small-market Spurs and would choose to go elsewhere for an opportunity to be a featured player.

And the tabloids were buzzing all summer with thoughts that Parker might end up in New York City where he potential would be feeding All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire in Mike D’Antoni’s appealing fast-break offense.

A funny thing happened for both players. Parker and Ginobili carefully weighed their options and decided they were better off sticking with the team where they had played their entire career.

Ginobili settled his first, agreeing to a three-year $38.9 million deal shortly before the 2010 playoffs started. He decided against playing in international play over the summer, spending time with his wife and new twin sons. It resulted him in reporting in the best shape of his recent career and continuing with the best start of his NBA career.

Parker’s contract saga stretched through the summer. But after reporting to camp in the best shape of his career, the Spurs saw the benefits in locking him up in a long-term contract.

According to league sources, Parker’s deal calls for a non-escalating salary. Parker is to get $12.5 million for the 2011-12 season, and in each of the three succeeding seasons. That caveat was negotiated because of increases that may or may not be allowed under a potential new collective bargaining agreement.

And only $3.5 million is fully guaranteed in the final season, 2014-15, when Parker would be 32 years old.

Parker’s deal includes a no trade kicker that would have increased Parker’s salary in the event of a trade. Ginobili’s does include a trade kicker.

But what the signings meant more than anything else is the Parker and Ginobili both are likely with the team through the end of the Tim Duncan era.

The benefits of the signing were obvious as both Parker and Ginobili started the season quickly, serving as two key components in the Spurs’ record-breaking 28-4 start through Thursday’s game.

Parker and Ginobili are both playing at All-Star level in the first half of the season. And their signing means that “The Big Three” will keep continue playing for three more years.

With Duncan’s reduced contributions offensively, Parker and Ginobili are more important offensivelyto the Spurs than they ever have been before.

It’s helped Gregg Popovich transform the Spurs into the most efficient and productive offensive team in his coaching. Through Thursday’s games, the Spurs rank fourth in scoring (105.72 points per game), second in point differential (plus 8.28 points per game), fifth in field-goal percentage (47.1 percent) and first in the league in 3-point percentage (40.2 percent).

Their starting backcourt is a big reason for that early success. And if they play together for the next three seasons, more likely will follow as Ginobili and Parker mature together.

Spurs’ record-breaking start is No. 2 story of 2010

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

After being swept in the second round of the playoffs by Phoenix last spring, the San Antonio Spurs were observed by most of the basketball cognescenti as a dynasty that appeared to be fading away.

The Spurs made some moves in the off-season, signing Tiago Splitter and bringing Gary Neal into the franchise after three seasons overseas. Manu Ginobili signed a contract extension before the end of last season and Tony Parker re-upped before the 2010-11 season started.

Even with those moves, most preseason predictions presumed the Spurs would continue their slide from last season when they notched a 50-32 record and a No. 7 slot in the playoff seedings that was the worst of the Tim Duncan era.

Because of that slide, and the more heralded roster moves with the other contenders, the Silver and Black weren’t mentioned in the same conversation as preseason title contenders Miami, Los Angeles Lakers and Boston and weren’t even a fashionable choice to win the Southwest Division in most preseason polls.

But so far this season, the Spurs have been the surprise of the NBA. Winning streaks of 12 and 10 games have catapulted them to a league-best 28-4 record — best in franchise history and second-best in NBA history to this point of the season.

Parker and Ginobili have played like the best pair of starting guards in the league. And the development of Neal and George Hill have rounded out what has been the league’s deepest and most productive backcourt.

After struggling through a difficult first season with the Spurs, Richard Jefferson endured a rigorous training regime over the summer as he learned his role in the San Antonio offense. The result has been the kind of play the Spurs expected from him when he arrived two seasons ago.

Duncan has taken a reduced role in many games this season, but has provided enough firepower in spots to provide much promise for his role during the rest of the season and the playoffs if he’s healthy and rested.

DeJuan Blair has been inconsistent inside, but the Spurs have gotten nice contributions from Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner. McDyess has provided wily veteran leadership when he has played. And Bonner has continued in his accustomed role as an outside threat, leading the league in 3-point percentage heading into the new year.

Even with the remarkable start, the Spurs have much room for growth. Gregg Popovich has been disappointed with the team’s defensive efforts, although a recent run of three strong games in the last week have showed flashes that this team could play more like its predecessors that won four championship.

And the bench could become even more productive as Splitter gains more confidence over the second half of the season and No. 1 draft pick James Anderson returns to the lineup after missing most of the season with a stress fracture in his right leg.

A tough schedule over the next week awaits them as they play Oklahoma City at home on Saturday night followed by a difficult road trip including back-to-back games at New York and Boston before finishing in Indiana.

But if the team continues to play like it has so far this season, Spurs Nation should block a lot of time for playoff action in May and June. And there might even be a chance that the Spurs might have another river parade as they should have a strong chance to contend for the NBA title in June if they can stay away from injuries.

And considering where expectations were coming into the season, it might well be the sweetest playoff challenge in the franchise’s history.

Suns’ playoff sweep over Spurs ranks as No. 3 story of 2010

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

The Spurs came into the Western Conference semifinals full of confidence after their upset victory over Dallas.

And the fact that previous playoff whipping-boy Phoenix awaited in the second round made many in Spurs Nation start salivating about a potential Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Lakers even before the second round of the playoffs started.

Somebody forgot to the the Suns. Steve Nash and Planet Orange finally got their revenge on the Spurs after four consecutive playoff losses to the Spurs since 2003.

The Suns came into the series with homecourt advantage, but the Spurs were the trendy pick for another upset after their strong play in the six-game upset of Dallas in the first round.

Nash catapulted the Suns to an early edge with a 33-point, 10-assist effort that boosted Phoenix to a 111-102 victory in Game 1. Nash started by hitting his first five shots as the Suns torched San Antonio for 51.9 percent from the field.

The Suns built on that with a 110-102 victory in Game 2 in a game where they wore their “Los Suns” jerseys in part to protest Arizona’s anti-immigration law. Channing Frye hit 5 of 6 3-pointers to key a perimeter blitz that help the Suns blow open a close game through three quarters after trailing by double-digits earlier in the game.

But the series turned in Game 3 when backup Phoenix point guard Goran Dragic scored 23 points in the fourth quarter to boost the Suns to a stunning 110-96 victory. The Spurs blew an 18-point lead early in the second quarter as Phoenix’s deep bench kept them in the game and ran the Spurs out of the A&T Center in the fourth quarter. Tony Parker returned to the starting lineup for this game, but was unable to duplicate the spark he provide in the first two games of the series, where he averaged 23 points a game coming off the bench.

And in Game 4, Nash overcame a right eye that was swollen shut after he was accidentally struck by Tim Duncan’s elbow in the third quarter. It didn’t matter, however, as Nash scored 10 of his 20 points in a fourth-quarter rally to spark a series-ending 107-101 victory for Phoenix.

It was an abrupt ending for the Spurs. Their bench was completely outclassed by the Suns as they were swept in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

That playoff defeat prompted an attitude change and reinforced the importance of a deeper bench to Gregg Popovich. The results have been noticeable in the Spurs’ record-breaking start this season.

No. 4 story of the year: Spurs topple Dallas in first round

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

Not much was expected out of the Spurs in the 2010 playoffs.

A ridiculously stacked Western Division resulted in a No. 7 seed for the Spurs, who finished the regular season at 50-32. Their .610 winning percentage resulted in their worst record in the Tim Duncan era.

That drew them the streaking Dallas Mavericks, who had claimed the No. 2 seed in the West and the Southwest Division championship with a finishing kick of eight victories in their last 10 regular-season games — including a regular-season finale victory over the Spurs.

Dirk Nowitzki’s 36-point effort in the opening game boosted the Mavericks to a 100-94 victory in Game 1.

But Duncan scored 25 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and Richard Jefferson bounced out of a season-long slump to score 19 points to enable the Spurs to steal homecourt advantage with a 102-88 Game 2 triumph in Dallas.

The definining moment of the series came in Game 3. After an errant elbow by Nowitzki broke Manu Ginobili’s nose, the Spurs guard was sent to the dressing room. After getting patched up, Ginobili returned to score 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter to lead a dramatic 94-90 comeback victory.

The Spurs extended their advantage to 3-1 in the series two days later with a 92-89 victory keyed by a 29-point effort by George Hill. The victory came despite a struggling performance by Duncan on his 34th birthday, as he tied his career playoff low with four points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Caron Butler scored 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to pace the desperate Mavericks to a 103-81 triumph in Game 5.

But it wasn’t enough. Ginobili, playing with his broken nose heavily bandaged, erupted for 26 points and Hill added 21 as the Spurs clinched the series with a 97-87 victory at the AT&T Center in Game 6.

It marked the first time since the NBA went to a best-of-7 format in the opening round that the No. 7 team had toppled the No. 2 seed. And it was particularly delicious for Spurs Nation, as Dallas and their brassy owner Mark Cuban were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.

After losing in the first round of the 2009 playoffs to the Mavericks, moving to the Western Conference semifinals was a positive step for the Spurs and ranked as the No. 4 story of the year.

Eva-Tony split ranks as Spurs No. 5 story of 2010

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

It’s hard to underestimate the news value of Tony Parker’s divorce earlier this season from his estranged wife, Eva Longoria.

While it has had little to do with the Spurs’ record-breaking 27-4 start, Parker’s divorce was a bombshell. It landed Parker among the top 10 sports-related Twitter topics of the year. His face was splashed across the cover of supermarket tabloids across the country. Inside Edition had a segment about it. People Magazine even sent out a correspondent to cover the Spurs practice on the day the story broke.

After their storybook marriage in a French castle three years ago, there was no doubt that Parker and Longoria were the power couple in San Antonio. And arguably in all of sports, where their marriage ranked as one of the biggest in current pop culture involving a celebrity and a sports star.

But the star of Desperate Housewives filed documents in Los Angeles Superior Court that cited “irreconcilable differences” for the split. The couple have been rocked with infidelity rumors, with claims that both were unfaithful.

Longoria, 35, is seeking spousal support from Parker, 28. The couple have a prenuptial agreement signed the month before their wedding and updated two years later. The petition says their date of separation is still to be determined.

While Parker’s personal life was turning upside down, his play on the court was as strong as it ever was. He’s been one of the key reasons why the Spurs have charged to the best record in the NBA, averaging 17.9 points and a career-best 7.1 assists per game.

There were signs that the couple could be reconciling. They were spotted having lunch in Los Angeles before the Spurs played the Clippers on Dec. 1. And Longoria flew several thousand miles back to San Antonio for a bar-b-q lunch with Parker a couple of weeks later that also was widely reported.

It’s unclear whether Parker and Longoria will get back together. But their starpower helped make their divorce Spurs Nation’s No. 5 story of the year.

Tweaking of Spurs’ offensive philosophy ranks as No. 6 Spurs story

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

Remember those plodding days when the Spurs used defense and a brutally efficient low-post offense to claim four World Championships?

That era really isn’t that far away — the first San Antonio title came only 11 years ago — but the Spurs have made a remarkable transformation this season.

The development of an offensive attack that ranks as one of the NBA’s best has been one of the biggest reasons for the Spurs’ fastest start in franchise history and a 27-4 record that ranks as the best record in the league.

Tim Duncan is scoring the fewest points and playing fewer minutes than any other time in his career. But Gregg Popovich has transformed this team into more of a running team that gets its identity from backcourt scorers Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and a deep, productive bench.

With the addition of rookie guard Gary Neal, the continued growth of third-year guard George Hill and the continuation of the league’s most potent perimeter attack makes this group look unlike any ever coached by Popovich.

It’s enabled the Spurs to average 105.9 points (fourth in the league), 47.2 percent from the field (fifth in the league), 4o.2 percent in 3-point shooting (leads the league) and 23.94 assists per game (second in the league). It’s the highest scoring average for the Spurs since the 1994-95 team that Bob Hill took to the brink of the Western Division title.

Nobody is saying this group looks like the run-and-gun Spurs of the George Gervin and James Silas era. But they are playing an entertaining kind of basketball that has made this team one of the most interesting to watch in the NBA.

Neal, who earned his contract after a strong summer league performance, scored back-to-back 22-point games last week.

Matt Bonner, who earned a new four-year contract over the summer, leads the league in 3-point percentage with 51.6 percent through games of Tuesday.

Richard Jefferson has developed into a strong perimeter threat with the best outside shooting of his career.

Ginobili and Parker have thrived in the running game, arguably playing like the best backcourt in the league.

The proof will be in their performance in May and June, but this running group of Spurs seemingly has reinvigorated Popovich as well.

Many observers have thought that the veteran Spurs coach would choose to retire at the end of the Duncan era, content on a certain Hall of Fame career with at least four NBA titles.

But Popovich clearly is having a lot of fun with his new toys and his new offensive philosophy. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he chooses to keep coaching for a few years after Duncan leaves.

This running group might only be a start of a new era in Spurs basketball.

Splitter’s arrival ranks as No. 7 Spurs story of 2010

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

Tiago Splitter came to San Antonio with more hype than any rookie in recent memory.

The excitement was understandable. Splitter was the Spanish League MVP in 2010 and the MVP in the Spanish Supercup in 2006 and 2007.

When he signed with the Spurs on July 1, Spurs Nation was in an uproar. The 6-foot-11 forward was seen as the kind of long, tall addition that would enable the Silver and Black to better compete against athletic Western Conference powers like the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas and Oklahoma City.

Splitter, who turns 26 on Saturday, showed flashes early in training camp as Coach Gregg Popovich raved about his basketball instincts and his grasp of basketball fundamentals. But Splitter’s development was held back by a strained plantaris muscle which cause him to miss all of preseason games and the first two games of the regular season.

His return to the lineup has been slowed as he gets back into shape. But through Monday’s games, he has appeared in 24 games averaging 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11.7 minutes.

Look for him to gradually earn more playing time as the season continues. But his real value will be apparent once the playoffs begin.

Splitter’s No. 6 ranking in Spurs Nation poll is directed more at the promise of what he can bring the team rather than what he has accomplished during his brief career.

R.J.’s renaissance ranks as No. 8 Spurs story of 2010

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

Richard Jefferson was expected to provide a key complimentary piece that would enable the Spurs to challenge in the Western Division when he arrived before the 2009-10 season.

But Jefferson struggled with his shooting and getting comfortable in San Antonio’s rotation. It resulted in the worst season of his career and questions about whether he would return to the Silver and Black.

Jefferson briefly considered leaving the team in free agency before resigning with the Spurs during the summer. More importantly, he dedicated himself with some of the hardest work of his career to get ready for his 10th professional season.

The results have been one of the key reasons for San Antonio’s team-record 26-4 start. Through Monday’s games, Jefferson is averaging 13.8 points per game on 48.9 percent shooting from the field — his best since his 2006 season with New Jersey — and a career-best 44.8 percent from 3-point range. He scored in double figures in 25 of the Spurs’ first 30 games.

His 28-point effort and four threes helped subdue Phoenix on Nov. 3 in an early victory that set the tone for the team. And he’s been a consistent scorer, defender and rebounder through much of the start.

Jefferson’s return to his previous form ranks eighth among Spurs Nation’s top 10 stories of 2010.

Top 10 Spurs stories: No. 9 – Young guns in the backcourt

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

The Spurs’ offensive turnaround during the 2010-11 has been sparked by the infusion of young perimeter players who have rejuvenated the team’s attack.

The addition of rookie guards Gary Neal and James Anderson and the development of George Hill has provided the team with exceptional depth behind starters Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Arguably, the Spurs might have the league’s best collection of talent among guards.

This group has been together for only six games because of Anderson’s stress fracture in his right foot. But the eventual return on the team’s No. 1 draft choice next month will only improve the team’s biggest strength.

Neal, 26, has provided a surprising start that was built in part because of spending three seasons in Europe after he left college. Coach Gregg Popovich has often said that Neal isn’t like a typical rookie because of those earlier basketball experiences overseas.

And Hill has continued his growth into one of the NBA’s top reserve players. If he can stay healthy, it’s not out of the question that he could again could challenge for the league’s most improved player after finishing second last season.

This young core has prompted new enthusiasm for the future of the Spurs — even with the looming retirement of Tim Duncan in the not-too-distant future. The development of these three young players ranks as Spurs Nation’s No. 9 2010 story for the Spurs.

Top 10 Spurs 2010 news stories: No. 10 Finley’s departure

from Spurs Nation by Tim Griffin

It’s been a tradition in newspapers probably since Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press.

During many of those years, newspapers always have looked back at the preceding year when they reach the latter stages of December.

And we at Spurs Nation figured that looking back at the Spurs’ 2010 year was an eventful one as well.

We’ll look back at two events per day until we pick the No. 1 news story around the Spurs on Friday afternoon.

But before we get there, we’ll count down nine others stories that had major ramifications for the team.

The first is the waiving of Michael Finley, our No. 10 selection of Spurs 2010 stories.

Finley arrived with the Spurs from Dallas in 2005 and was a valued member of the Spurs most recent championship team in 2006-07. Later, he was a starter for the Spurs in the next two seasons.

But when he lost his starting position and playing time early last season, the 37-year-old Finley asked the Spurs for his release so he could join a championship contender. He was accommodated on March 1.

He joined the Boston Celtics, where he averaged 5.2 points in 15 minutes after he joined them. But his hopes of a championship didn’t materialize as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Celtics in seven games in the NBA Finals.

It was a departure that was notable because of the lack of acrimony or public comment by either side. Finley wanted a new situation and the Spurs helped him get there.
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