NBA Life with Matt Bonner: Spurs continue to win without Ginobili
The Spurs are finding ways to stay atop the division standings despite the loss of Manu Ginobili, likely to miss at least two weeks after suffering a hamstring strain. Ginobili, averaging 12.9 points and 4.6 assists, has been hobbled with a variety of injuries this season. Concord native Matt Bonner, a seven-year veteran of the Spurs, says Ginobili's value can't be measured on the court alone.
Sunday News: It's been a tough year for Manu. What are your thoughts on not having him at 100 percent and how it affects the team?
Matt Bonner: It's tough losing a player like Manu. People may say he hasn't been in synch, and they look strictly at his scoring and assists, but he adds so much more to the game with his hustle, defense. He makes spectacular plays that fire up the team and get the crowd into the game. A lot of that stuff doesn't show up on the stat sheet, and that's what we miss the most when he's not out there. He may not have the numbers this year, but he's still a primary guy if we need a big play or a big bucket.
SN: How is life in the NBA with Matt Bonner right now?
MB: It's good. These are kind of the dog days in January, trying to get to the All-Star break, and then preparing for the home stretch to the playoffs. We've had some ups and downs as a team. We're just trying to play through it and stay focused. I think staying focused is a big thing in January.
SN: The Spurs were able to erase a late five-point deficit and force overtime against Memphis before losing, 101-98. Your thoughts on Memphis?
MB: Stephen Jackson and Tony Parker each hit clutch 3-pointers in the final five seconds of regulation, but we couldn't put the ball in the hoop in overtime. Memphis is a hardnosed, defense-minded team, especially at home. We played as hard as we possibly could and couldn't come out on top.
SN: It sounds like the Grizzlies have some players on the trade block. How is that possible? They are a really good team. Why break it up?
MB: The salary cap under the new collective bargaining agreement must be the driving force behind those talks. They're a tough team. They have one of the toughest, most talented and deepest teams. If you look at their spending and moving forward, you can see how that might put them into the luxury tax. Maybe it's not worth it for the ownership to take on all the penalties that come with that.
SN: What did you think of the Patriots against the Texans?
MB: Impressive. I didn't get to watch the whole game. I was watching as much as I could in the equipment room. It's great when you keep getting scoring updates and you keep hearing how badly they were beating the Texans. Hopefully they can keep it going. The injury to (Rob Gronkowski) doesn't help things, but they've shown they can move people around to different spots and be successful.
I think this is where the home field really pays off. I'm pretty confident going into the AFC Championship. It's going to be a tough game. The Ravens play with a lot of emotion, but I think the Pats will be prepared and play a little sharper.
SN: Do you think coaches can make a bigger difference in the outcome of NFL games compared to the impact of coaches in other sports?
MB: I think the NFL, more than any other sport, is all about execution. You have more people on the field. Everyone needs to be working together on every play. You look at the Patriots and how they use that quick snap. That sums it all up. The fact the Patriots are all on the same page ready to execute before the defense is ready, that's what gives them an advantage.
SN: It's amazing how the Seahawks found a way to lose by calling a timeout and giving the Atlanta kicker a "practice field goal" before setting up for the game winner.
MB: It's like getting a free throw to win the game, and the same thing happens. Everyone knows the second free throw is easier. You can recalibrate. I would think it's the same thing with kicking.
Matt Bonner discusses The NBA Life each week with radio broadcaster Chris Ryan and New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Kevin Gray, and the interview appears weekly in the N.H. Sunday News.