San Antonio.- After playing a total of 11 minutes in the Spurs first three games of the season, De Juan Blair (2.0) led the team in minutes played with 29 in a victory over the Pacers, 101-79.
The noticeably thinner and more agile Blair was the second lead scorer Monday with 14 points on a night when Tony Parker struggled only scoring six points.
Gary Neal led all scorers with 17, while Tim Duncan finished with 14.
With about three minutes left in the first quarter, Blair entered the game and didn’t exit the game until very late in the second quarter. In that time Blair only pulled down four rebounds and four points, but in the second half he shined when he went off for 10 points and seven rebounds.
“De Juan has been very professional. I haven’t played him very much at all and he’s stayed in shape. He’s ready to go, he’s part of the team and he’s not going to let anything get him down,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.
“If I don’t play him he doesn’t turn sour or anything like that he showed tonight how ready he is and did a great job at both ends,” he added.
Pop’s decisions are not made in vain considering his résumé as a coach and all the bling-bling in his trophy case, so Blair’s ability to matchup versus the Pacers may have been why he got the call over Tiago Splitter who had played three times the minutes Blair had leading up to the contest.
“It’s unique here because you might play five minutes one night and 20 the next, so you have to be professional about your job and have to be ready and always prepared because you never know when Coach Pop’s going to call on you,” said Spurs guard Danny Green. “De Juan was ready today, he came in and matched the Pacers toughness inside, and he really helped us.”
The Spurs will face the L.A. Clippers tonight at the Staples Center against a very athletic group of young players.
In last year’s playoffs the Spurs swept the Clips’ and Popovichprotégé Vinny Del Negro, so L.A. might be looking for revenge. Not much has changed rosterwise for either team, but unlike last year Chris Paul has had an entire year to gel with Blake Griffin and company.
Dennis M. Ayotte, Jr. is a reporter for La Prensa de San Antonio. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.