The Spurs fortunes continue to go sideways.  One star comes back from injury, and another goes down.  First, Tim Duncan went out with a sprained ankle and knee.  Then, just about the time he was coming back, Tony Parker went down for a few games.  Now, the injury bug has bitten Manu Ginobili, who left Saturday’s game against the Clippers with a sprained thumb.  If the San Antonio team pays its trainers by the hour, they are due for some serious overtime.

The good news is that the team is still currently in first place in the division, leading Dallas by a game, and sporting a 19-7 record.  If they can manage to hold onto first place while dealing with the rash of injuries that has beset the club, their confidence should be sky high when the post-season rolls around.  As it currently stands, the team is barely managing to go .500 over the last few weeks.  In the last 5 games, they have gone 2-3, beating Denver and the Clippers, but losing to Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Memphis, over that span.

Against the Suns--the Spurs annual playoff rivals--the Spurs lost their first home game of the season, as Phoenix managed to exact some revenge after being bounced from the playoffs last year by San Antonio, in a violent and controversial series.  Although Tony Parker sat out the game with a bad ankle, the Spurs still managed to hang tough, and kept the game close the whole way.  The game was Duncan’s first full game, after playing about half his regular minutes in the previous game.  The big center certainly showed no ill effects from the injury, setting season highs in points and rebounds, with 36 and 17 against the Suns.  The game was tied with less than two minutes to play before Phoenix finally pulled away for the 100-95 win.

One would think that the cure for losing would be a date with the Memphis Grizzlies, who currently occupy last place in the Southwest, with a 8-19 record, but the Spurs simply did not show up for this one until too late, and the Grizzlies made off with a 88-85 victory on a last second shot by Rudy Gay.  The Grizzlies were up by as many as 23 in the contest, before Ginobili and Duncan brought San Antonio back.  The Spurs managed to hold Memphis to just 12 points in the final period, but it was 4 points too many.  The excuse of not having Parker again can’t be used for this one, as Memphis was without its man in the middle, Pau Gasol also.

The Spurs finally drew an opponent with worse luck than themselves, when the LA Clippers came to town.  Playing without Elton Brand, Shaun Livingston, Cory Maggette, Tim Thomas, and Paul Davis, the shorthanded Clippers gave the Spurs problems in the final period, coming back from 14 point deficits to pull within 6, but the Spurs eventually held on.  The game marked the return of Tony Parker to the line up, but also the exit of Manu Ginobili, who left with a sprained thumb in the first quarter.  Duncan picked up the slack, setting a new season high for rebounds with 18, and leading the team with 34 points.

The injuries are starting to add up for San Antonio, but the team is managing to hold onto first place.  With any luck, the Spurs are getting their injuries out of the way before the post season arrives.