December 25th 2016 at 7:32pm CST by Arthur Hill
Manu Ginobili is giving the Spurs more of “the old Manu” this season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. At 39, the 15-year veteran was instrumental in wins this week over the Pelicans and Rockets. He continues to amaze teammates, who marvel at his work ethic and passion for the game. After considering retirement last summer, Ginobili signed a one-year deal worth $14MM. He hasn’t said whether this will be his final year in the NBA. “Manu is Manu,” said coach Gregg Popovich. “When he gets on the court, he is there ready to play and compete and he’s done it for his whole career. And he’ll do it until he stops playing. I don’t care what his age is.”
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Rookie guard Dejounte Murray was grateful to get his second start of the season in front of family and friends in Portland, Orsborn writes in a separate piece. The Seattle native had a huge contingent cheering him on as he filled in for Tony Parker. “All I need is a chance,” said Murray, who has played just 74 minutes all season. “Like Pop told me, ‘Stay under control, run the team, and do what you do.’ It’s basketball at the end of the day. It’s nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be nervous about. I’m a little nervous because I’m a rookie. But at the end of the day, it’s hooping. Just go out and play ball.”
- Back-to-back road wins have the Mavericks feeling like they’re still in the playoff race, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas is 5-4 since its 4-17 start and sits just three games behind Sacramento for the eighth seed in a crowded contest. The recent return of Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams and others from injury has the Mavericks believing this season can still be salvaged.
- Suns coach Earl Watson recognized the star potential in James Harden before he reached the NBA, relays Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic. In back-to-back years, Watson recommended Russell Westbrook and Harden to Thunder GM Sam Presti. “If you go play pickup anywhere in L.A. and if there’s NBA players, you will find Russell Westbrook or James Harden in that game,’’ Watson said. “Even this summer coming up, they love to hoop. There’s something about players that love to play. You can only get good at what you love to do consistently over and over and over.”