It may be that a team can pick up the slack for a fallen star. The other players can raise their game, and the team can continue to win, in spite of a glaring loss. When a second star goes down with an injury—especially when he is the motor that makes the team go--the chances of the team being able to win against other quality opponents goes down immensely. Such was the week for the Spurs, who were forced to play two men short, because of two balky ankles. Tim Duncan missed two more games this week because of a twisted ankle and tweaked knee, but one game before he was to come back, Tony Parker twisted his ankle and was forced out of the line up.
It was not a good week for the Spurs, as they went 1-2.
Against the Golden State Warriors, the Spurs finally felt the absence of Duncan, and sloppy play led to their downfall. Without the big man for what was his third straight game, San Antonio committed 21 rebounds—a season high—and didn’t get much from Ginobili, whose hot streak finally came to an end after scoring 37 points in back to back games. Matt Bonner, however, was one of the bright spots for the Spurs, scoring career highs in points and rebounds, with 25 and 17 respectively. San Antonio set a season low for points in a quarter, only managing 12 in the second. Although the Spurs were down as much as 16 in the game, they managed to cut the lead to single digits, before finally falling, 96-84.
Two nights later against the Lakers, the injury bug bit again. Apparently, Tony Parker had been nursing an injured ankle for the better part of a week, and was finally forced to the sidelines against the Lakers. With two stars out of the line up, the Spurs fought bravely, but didn’t have enough firepower to finish the job. The Spurs that did play, stepped up their game, with Bruce Bowen leading the team with 22 points. Others, such as Robert Horry, with 17 points, and Fabricio Oberto, with 9 points and 16 rebounds, helped San Antonio to hang with the Lakers until the last. Ginobili scored 14 points, but also committed 7 turnovers and was sidelined for much of the second half with 5 fouls. The Lakers managed to hold off the Spurs, 102-97, behind Kobe Bryant’s 30 points.
Against Denver, Tim Duncan finally made his reappearance, and although he only played 20 minutes, he made his presence felt with 8 points, 5 rebounds, and a blocked shot. Just having him back allowed the Spurs to keep their perfect home record in tact, running it to 13-0. Tony Parker was still sidelined with a bum ankle, but Jacques Vaughn stepped in and contributed 10 points and 6 assists. Fabricio Oberto stepped up his game in a big way, going 10-11 from the field on his way to 21 points and 13 rebounds. Michael Finley also chipped in with 21 points on 4-5 shooting from behind the arc. Although Allen Iverson scored 30 in the loss, the Spurs managed to keep the rest of the Denver offense in check, holding Carmelo Anthony to 15 points, and Marcus Camby to 4.
The Spurs managed to get one star back, but lost another in the process. The Spurs did drop a pair of games with Duncan on the sidelines, but managed to keep their home record in tact, and still hold a 3 game division lead over Dallas, and the best record in the West, and the second best in the league.