Leave it to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to make light of an otherwise less-than-stellar situation.
San Antonio needed to expend more energy than perhaps was necessary in securing a double-overtime win over the Wizards on Wednesday, though they did it without Tony Parker for much of it.
Parker played less than 19 minutes and did not return after leaving the game with what was described as lower back tightness. Popovich ruled him out for Thursday’s nationally televised contest in Brooklyn against the Nets, while hinting that another of his veterans may have to step up in a big way in Parker’s absence.
Duncan finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks. Popovich, who has a habit of resting his older players in back-to-back situations, said after Wednesday’s game he had a different plan in Brooklyn.
“I’m going to play him 48 (minutes) tomorrow,” Popovich said. “You’re making that kind of money, you’ve got to play.”
There’s a decent chance that even without Parker for this one, and even though the Spurs are still missing Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili due to injury, that Duncan gets the night off despite his team being so short-handed.
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Popovich coaches not on a game-to-game basis, but with an eye on the totality of the season’s picture instead. While he might like to give Duncan the extra burn, if he does let him play, it likely will only be in a relatively limited capacity.