Manu Ginobili, Ty Lawson

Manu Ginobili very close to making his season debut

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After Tony Parker’s clutch basket led to a thrilling victory over one of the west’s elite powers, the Spurs are again showing they will be a team to be reckoned with this season.

It’s scary to think, then, that the Spurs are about to get even better but that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Manu Ginobili, who missed the Spurs’ opener against the Thunder with back spasms, is getting really close to returning to the team and that will spell trouble for the rest of the league:

“He’s really close,” Popovich said. “I think he’ll be OK for the weekend. He hasn’t practiced in five, six, seven days and missed a game (Wednesday) night. It doesn’t make much sense for him to play when he hasn’t practiced or had any contact.”

This is classic Popovich in that he won’t rush any of his star players back for regular season games. He’s the best in the league at stepping back, seeing the big picture and managing his players in a way that promotes the team’s long term success.

Holding out Ginobili for an extra day or two allows Pop to invest time in his other wing players who need developing. Then when Ginobili does return, the Spurs have a deeper roster of players who understand what it takes to win games.

The rest of the NBA should take note. They should also be a bit concerned.

Ginobili will make a big difference for this team and with the Lakers faltering early and the Thunder trying to find their way sans James Harden, the Spurs may just find themselves at the top of the conference again. The more things change, the more they stay the same it seems.

Patrick Beverley shuts down Westbrook on final play, bowls through own coach (VIDEO)

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Houston Rockets G Patrick Beverley is known around the NBA for being a dogged defender. His skill set was on full display on Friday night, where Beverley shut down Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Russell Westbrook on a potential game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

It all started early in the matchup, when Beverley — notorious for getting under the skin of both Westbrook and other NBA opponents — flopped with some serious gusto just 36 seconds into the first quarter.

Via Twitter:

The game continued like this, but the real highlight of Beverley’s defensive night was stopping Westbrook — who dropped his 7th straight triple-double — on an isolation play with six seconds left in the fourth quarter.

With the ball on the left garden spot, Westbrook gave a couple of dribble hesitation moves to Beverley, then tried to rise up for the go-ahead bucket.

Beverley was right up on him, and forced an airball from Westbrook:

The Rockets guard was so happy about the stop and the eventual win that he celebrated a little too enthusiastically with Houston coach Mike D’Antoni.

Going for a chest bump, Beverley wound up blasting through his own coach:

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan’s bromance continues after beating Celtics (VIDEO)

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Toronto Raptors stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are becoming one of the best duos in the NBA, on and off the court. They joked around in the locker room after their win over the Boston Celtics on Friday night, 101-94, but the comedy started before the two even left the floor.

In a postgame interview with CSNNE DeRozan was asked what the message was at halftime from coach Dewane Casey.

DeRozan — with Lowry looking devious in the background of the shot — was gracious.

“Just get [Lowry] the ball,” DeRozan smiled.

Pleased with the result, Lowry responded with a “That’s a good message right there!” before running off to the locker room.

The interview continued to be interrupted, with Raptors big man Jared Sullinger giving the camera a drive by “DeMar for President!”

New England Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount even showed up to show DeRozan some love.

Kevin Durant gets fouled by Stephen Curry, officials whistle Joe Johnson instead (VIDEO)

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The Golden State Warriors are so talented, perhaps the officials are predisposed to blowing whistles in their favor. At least, that’s the only explanation you could give to a Utah Jazz fan after seeing what happened between Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Utah’s Joe Johnson on Thursday night.

As Durant came off a curl on the far side of the court, he used a screen set by Curry on Johnson.

With the ball in his hands, Durant rose to fire but found himself locked in arms with another player. Durant’s shot attempt helplessly bounced away as he shot, and officials whistled Johnson on the play.

Of course, a closer look reveals that the player Durant’s arms were tangled up with was … Curry.

Yes, Curry had arm locked what he thought was Johnson on the screen but was instead his teammate and MVP candidate.

It didn’t matter, as referees awarded Durant the free throws, of which he only made 1 of 2.

Perhaps that’s some solace?

Golden State beat Utah, 106-99.

DeMarcus Cousins trolls Joakim Noah on shooting form (VIDEO)

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New York Knicks C Joakim Noah has an awkward jumper and free throw technique, there’s no denying that. His two-handed, horizontal approach to shooting a basketball is ripe for criticism.

DeMarcus Cousins thinks so, at least.

During a game between the Sacramento Kings and the Knicks, Cousins decided to give Noah a little tongue-in-cheek trolling about his form.

Via Twitter:

Looks about right.