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News » Defense on the mend

Defense on the mend

Defense on the mend The Spurs on Saturday held the Washington Wizards to 33.3 percent shooting and 84 points, the lowest field-goal percentage and second-lowest point total for an opponent this season.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich reserved judgment on whether this was a result of his team's defensive ascendancy or Washington's offensive struggles.

Afterward, the Wizards were openly sniping at one another about selfish play, and Popovich said he would wait to see the videotape before judging his team's defensive work.

"I just want to see how many basic errors we made and how many basic, good plays we made to see how much we improved," he said. "Overall, I'm pretty certain it was better (defense) than it has been the last few games."

Popovich was certain of one thing: He was happy with the interior defense and rebounding he got from center Theo Ratliff, one of two veteran interior players the Spurs signed as free agents in the summer.

Ratliff had a season-best 11 rebounds and blocked three shots in about 22 minutes against the Wizards.

"Theo got a decent amount of minutes, and I thought he had a fantastic defensive game," Popovich said. "Offensively, he was very poised and played a good team game there."

Ratliff, in his 15th season, has played only 75 minutes in the first 11 games but said he feels comfortable with the Spurs' schemes.

"I'm fine with learning the systems," Ratliff said. "It's an adjustment, but once you understand the concepts and watch the film and see what it is Coach wants us to do, it's just about going out there and competing and just hustling. If you're giving effort, and you're in the right positions, everything works for us."

Quarterback Tim: Tim Duncan had seven assists in the first half Saturday, prompting Popovich to laud his ability to quarterback the team.

Center Matt Bonner, recipient of one of those assists, said the Spurs understand that when Duncan is passing, they have to be ready for his throws.

"Obviously, you've got to have the right spacing and be in the right floor spots, but after that, he does it himself," Bonner said.

"He draws the double-team and finds the open man.

"Tim's a team player, and he takes what the defense gives him. Some nights he scores, and some nights teams aggressively double him and try to take him out of the game. He's unselfish, so he just finds the open man."

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Added: November 24, 2009


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