Tim Duncan did not attend the film session or go through a light practice with his San Antonio Spurs teammates on Friday afternoon at the Alamodome. Officially, the NBA's rookie of the year is listed as "probable" for this afternoon's Western Conference semifinal game against the Utah Jazz due to a sprained left ankle he suffered Thursday night in the Delta Center.
But Duncan will definitely play.Either that, or the Spurs will be looking for more than one replacement.
"If (Duncan) don't play, I'm not going out there either," quipped Spurs forward Chuck Person.
"I think (Duncan) is going to be fine by when game times rolls around," predicted Spurs guard Vinny Del Negro. "He's young, and hopefully his body will respond quickly."
Said David Robinson, "As far as I know, he'll play. This is not the time of year to be complaining about your injuries."
THE UNTHINKABLE: A San Antonio television reporter asked Robinson what life without Duncan would be like as the series resumed.
"We definitely don't want to lose Tim," Robinson said. "He's playing fantastic. He's a big key to what we're trying to do."
SPURRING ON FANS: The Spurs players almost seemed to be issuing a challenge to their fans to be as loud and vocal in their support as Jazz fans are in the Delta Center.
"The Delta Center is really a tough place to play," said Del Negro after practice Friday afternoon. "It's loud and their crowd really gets into it. Their team really feeds off that. We expect to have the same here at the Alamodome - to be able to feed off the crowd and be able to get over two difficult losses and get back on track here. We're looking forward to having a big, enthusiastic crowd."
Said Robinson, "We were playing in a hostile environment over there. Now we'll be in front of our own fans, so it should really help us out."
Avery Johnson put it this way, "I expect the fans to really be into this game. They're going to be standing and hollering the whole game because we're playing a heated rival like the Jazz. Our effort in games one and two, though it was really good, we needed more. Our fans recognized that and they are going to provide us with a great homecourt advantage."
HOME COOKING? Robinson, who was somewhat crit-i-cal of the referees in the first game, said he felt the officials, for the most part, did a good job in Game 2.
He's hoping things will get even better now that the Spurs are back home.
"I don't play the Las Vegas odds, and I don't think things will even out," said Robinson, "but it should be a little more friendly at home."
MARKS THE SPOT: Robinson continues to take offense concerning his defense on Karl Malone. His biggest complaint? The way Malone uses his legs when he drives to the basket.
"He drives in, kicks me and they call the foul on me. I told (the officials), `Look, it should be a no-call if nothing else,' " Robinson said after Game 2. "The only contact that's made is his knee to my groin. So I don't see how they can call a foul on me in that situation. You get penalized for good defense."
The Admiral hopes by going public with his concerns, the officials will learn and not call it the next time it happens.
DEFENDING KARL: The Spurs were pleased with the defensive job they did on Malone in Game 2. The Mailman's delivery route was hit-and-miss, and mainly the latter as he went 10 of 26 from the field Thursday night.
"Oh man, you've got to give Will a ton of credit. He was fantastic, so was Tim," Robinson said. "It's tough for (Karl) to shoot over the big guys. We challenged him a bit more and tried to get him to shoot outside shots."
Duncan said the Spurs succeeded in their plan to stick with Malone and force him to take some hard shots.
Malone, however, found a way to score the go-ahead basket in overtime. His driving dunk along the baseline put the Jazz on top for good with 1:18 remaining.
"Karl's a crafty player," Avery Johnson said. "He pretty much takes what the defense gives him."
San Antonio, he said, must decide whether to emphasize limiting Malone's jump shots or drives to the basket in the remaining games of the series.