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Send in the reinforcements

Spurs could use a little help to boost chances in West

Posted: Wednesday January 17, 2007 1:08PM; Updated: Wednesday January 17, 2007 1:08PM
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Michael Finley is shooting a career-low 37.4 percent from the field -- part of the reason the Spurs may need to add another scorer.
Michael Finley is shooting a career-low 37.4 percent from the field -- part of the reason the Spurs may need to add another scorer.
Greg Nelson/SI
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The Spurs haven't been as dominant as usual at the AT&T Center this season
Season Home Record
2003-04 33-8
2004-05 38-3
2005-06 34-7
2006-07 14-6

CHICAGO -- As a veteran of 15 seasons -- and the proud holder of six championship rings -- Spurs forward Robert Horry knows a little about what it takes to win a title.

So it's worth noting that Big Shot Rob still likes his team's chances to win the NBA crown even if the Mavs and Suns seem to be getting all the hype.

"People are gonna talk about them because they have flash," Horry said. "We have no flash. They like guys who go up and down [the court]. They got 16 guys who can put it on floor, shoot threes and stuff. They got the high-flying dunkers in Phoenix. They got stuff that makes quote-unquote papers sell. We don't have that. We don't have guys who dunk a lot. We don't have nobody with flash. We just get the job done."

Spurs fans can only hope Horry's confidence is based on an honest evaluation of the situation -- and not just team spirit.

For as the season nears the midpoint, it's fair to wonder if San Antonio has what it takes right now to beat out Dallas, Phoenix and all the other charging horses in the Western Conference.

The Spurs just have not looked like a dominant team most of this season. They already have lost six games at home, including two to Dallas and one to Houston. Their once-feared defense has ranked near the middle of the pack in field goal percentage allowed for much of the season, with coach Gregg Popovich even calling them his worst unit in six or eight years. Most of all, they have appeared a step slow.

Though the Spurs have won four of five heading into Wednesday night's showdown against the Lakers, and the defense has tightened up of late, they still have been too "up and down" in the words of Tim Duncan.

On Monday, the Spurs allowed Bulls youngsters Ben Gordon, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng to drive-and-kick their way to 49.4 percent shooting en route to a 99-87 victory. At the other end, San Antonio was unable to take advantage of a Chicago team minus defensive aces Ben Wallace and Chris Duhon. The Spurs wound up shooting just 39.5 percent, hitting just 6-of-23 three-pointers, en route to their sixth loss in 13 games.

On at least three possessions, Bulls rookie forward Tyrus Thomas stunned the Spurs by seemingly coming out of nowhere to block shots. Twice he crammed home a spectacular putback, including one right before the halftime horn in which he seemed to go from one side of the lane to the other in a split second.

"He's a heck of an athlete," Duncan marveled.

It's exactly that kind of athletic presence that the Spurs lack this season, and why many around the league feel they need to make a move if they hope to challenge for a fourth championship in nine years. They reportedly have talked to the Clippers about Corey Maggette, but L.A. wants more in return than Brent Barry and Beno Udrih. Other players who could help the Spurs and might be available include the Rockets' Bonzi Wells and the Jazz's Andrei Kirilenko. But neither Houston nor Utah is likely to want to help a fellow West rival, and in Kirilenko's case at least, the Spurs don't appear to have the right players to make a deal add up under salary cap rules.


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