Spurs win: San An­to­nio tops Or­lando in pre­sea­son fi­nale.

Third-year point guard lat­est to take over what has be­come the most cursed po­si­tion

San Antonio Express-News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff McDon­ald

OR­LANDO, Fla. — Bryn Forbes believes he can do this, and that should sur­prise no­body.

In his two-plus sea­sons with the Spurs, a lack of con­fi­dence never has been Forbes’ weak­ness.

So when the Spurs’ new­est start­ing point guard says he has no fear about man­ning what has sud­denly be­come the NBA’s most cursed po­si­tion, be­lieve him.

“We’re go­ing the make it work,” Forbes said Fri­day be­fore draw­ing his first start of the pre­sea­son in the Spurs’ 100-81 vic­tory at Or­lando. “The last three years, that was the big­gest change in my game, learn­ing the point guard po­si­tion. That was what I worked on the most.”

A dead-eyed shooter, Forbes earned an NBA con­tract af­ter go­ing un­drafted out of Michi­gan State be­cause of his abil­ity to put the ball in the hole.

Now, with point guards drop­ping left and right around him, Forbes is go­ing to be asked to run the Spurs’ whole show.

The Spurs have lost three guards to in­jury in the past week. The most re­cent was Der­rick White, who it was an­nounced Fri­day tore the plan­tar fas­cia in his left foot dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s pre­sea­son loss at At­lanta.

White had re­placed De­jounte Mur­ray, who ear­lier in the week suc­cumbed to a torn right an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment. Two days be­fore that, the Spurs lost an­other player who might have fig­ured in the guard ro­ta­tion — rookie Lon­nie Walker IV — to a torn menis­cus in his right knee.

Forbes wasn’t the Spurs’ first choice to be their open­ing-night start­ing point guard. For now, coach Gregg Popovich believes Forbes to be the best re­main­ing choice.

Even so, Popovich cau­tions not to ex­pect the world from Forbes as a lead guard.

“He’s not go­ing to be John Stock­ton,” Popovich said.

Upon his ar­rival to the Spurs’ pro­gram in 2016, the team im­me­di­ately be­gan to cross train him as a point guard. Play­ers of Forbes’ size — he is 6-foot-3 — gen­er­ally need point-guard skills to sur­vive in the NBA.

The Spurs sent Forbes to their G-League team in Austin, with in­struc­tions to play him pri­mar­ily at the point.

“He got some ex­pe­ri­ence,” Popovich said. “He’s not a point, but it gave him a chance to work on his ball-han­dling and his con­fi­dence.”

Forbes’ in­au­gu­ral point guard start went well enough Fri­day. He scored eight points on 8-of-11 shoot­ing, logged six re­bounds, three as­sists and com­mit­ted two turnovers in 26 min­utes.

More im­por­tantly, con­sid­er­ing the way the week has gone for the Spurs, Forbes left the Amway Cen­ter up­right.

He spent much time work­ing on his body dur­ing the off­sea­son to bet­ter sur­vive the rig­ors of the NBA cal­en­dar. Forbes worked out

near his home in Michi­gan, liv­ing in the weight room while also run­ning on hills and sand.

He said he put on about eight or nine pounds of mus­cle, a re­shap­ing that also in­cluded a change in his diet. Forbes said he ate four or five meals per day dur­ing the sum­mer, loaded up on carbs and pro­tein, and cut out fried foods and sweets.

French fries and pizza were the most dif­fi­cult sac­ri­fices to make, he said.

“I take my body se­ri­ously,” Forbes said. “That was a big part of the deal the sum­mer, lift­ing and try­ing to stay healthy.”

If Forbes is able to ac­com­plish that sec­ond goal, he will al­ready have an ad­van­tage over oth­ers to man the Spurs’ point guard po­si­tion this pre­sea­son.

“You don’t ever ex­pect that, three point guards go­ing down,” Forbes said. “I think we’ve got so many threats of­fen­sively, and a lot a guys can bring the ball up. We’re go­ing to be OK.”

De­fense re­turns: Popovich and other Spurs vet­er­ans say they were pleased with the team’s de­fen­sive im­prove­ments Fri­day, two days af­ter al­low­ing At­lanta to score 130 points.

By half­time in Or­lando, the Magic needed a 100-point sec­ond half to match the to­tal the Hawks laid on the Spurs. They wouldn’t get it.

The Spurs held Or­lando to 37.1 per­cent shoot­ing and took con­trol of the game early by lim­it­ing the Magic to 10 first-quar­ter points.

The Magic were the third op­po­nent in five pre­sea­son games to hit less than 40 per­cent of their shots against the Spurs.

“I thought the de­fense was very good,” Popovich said. “They took a step for­ward in some of the things we were try­ing to do game­plan wise.”

LaMar­cus Aldridge called Fri­day night “a good step in the right di­rec­tion, be­ing bet­ter with schemes.”

It will take a col­lec­tive ef­fort for the Spurs to main­tain their usual de­fen­sive stan­dard, es­pe­cially with Mur­ray — their lone rep­re­sen­ta­tive on last year’s NBA Al­lDe­fen­sive team — out for the sea­son.

“I think these guys re­al­ize they’ve each got to pick it up,” Popovich said. “It’s all about the de­fense, es­pe­cially on the road. They showed that tonight. Hope­fully, it will con­tinue.”

Re­call­ing Win­ter: Spurs cen­ter Pau Ga­sol re­mem­bered Hall of Fame coach Tex Win­ter as “a spe­cial per­son and spe­cial coach.”

Win­ter, the ar­chi­tect of the famed “Tri­an­gle” of­fense Phil Jack­son road to 11 cham­pi­onships with Chicago and the L.A. Lak­ers, died Wed­nes­day at 94.

Win­ter was an as­sis­tant with the Lak­ers when Ga­sol ar­rived in 2008 and later was a fre­quent prac­tice vis­i­tor in his role as un­of­fi­cial con­sul­tant.

“He would come around ev­ery so of­ten,” Ga­sol said. “He would still bring his spirit and his prin­ci­ples. He would still be a critic when you weren’t ex­e­cut­ing the ‘Tri­an­gle’ well or do­ing what you were sup­posed to do. His pres­ence was al­ways no­ticed.”

Sam Green­wood / Getty Im­ages

Gregg Popovich and the Spurs won the pre­sea­son fi­nale, but en­ter the reg­u­lar sea­son with three point guards lost to in­jury.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.