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WEDNESDAY WIRE

GROWING PAINS

Nothing comes easy. After one of the biggest off-season overhauls the Spurs have delivered in the Tim Duncan era, the team still has a lot of growing to do. With two tough losses to the Jazz and Blazers, and a stunning win against Toronto, we look more like a child trying to walk for the first time, than a championship basketball team. We have seen the ups, downs, bumps, and bruises. Just when it looks like we will never get on our feet, we do, even if it is just for a moment. All it took was a rousing 130 point win to find out the caliber of ammo we have in the chamber.

While Tony and Tim sat out with injuries, our young second team squad showed us just what they are made of. George Hill has been heralded by the coaching staff for some time, especially Pop. Until now, we really haven’t seen much of what he can do. His length, athleticism, and high basketball IQ were on full display. After Monday’s win in Toronto, Hill is will have to pay Tony Parker some royalties for using his patented, ankle-breaking crossover on Bargnani. We, yet again, struggled early, but our squad showed some toughness, and kept fighting back until Manu finished them off in the fourth quarter. With all of the good in the Toronto game, there is still work to do.

Do not get too excited about this explosive offensive performance. Defense, not scoring 130 points a game, will get us back to championship form. The Spurs made a name for themselves over the past decade on being one of the stingiest defenses in the NBA, as for this season, that has yet to be seen. What we do know, San Antonio is in the bottom half of the league in 3 point defense. We are 29th in steals, 27th in defensive rebounding, and we are allowing our opponents to shoot over 48% from the field. With seven new players coming in and some of our key defenders going out, this is to be expected, but we must continue to improve.

Historically, we have always jumped out to slow starts, this year is no different. The win against Toronto looked good offensively, but the losses to Utah and Portland have left us a little black and blue. Hill is emerging, Jefferson is getting more comfortable with each game, and Manu is looking like the flashy sports car again. This is an 82 game season, and only six have been played. It may seem like a slow start, but just remember you have to walk before you run. When it finally is playoff time, this team will be in full stride.

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