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November 8, 2008, 12:52 AM ET
Uh-oh in San Antonio

by Kevin Pelton

Is it time for the San Antonio Spurs to be worried? It would seem so in the wake of this evening’s results. No, not the Spurs’ 99-81 loss at home to Miami, which dropped them to 1-4 on the young season. The bigger issue transpired during the first half of the game, when Tony Parker rolled his left ankle on a drive to the basket. Pending an MRI, the initial word is that Parker will be out for at least two weeks.

Now, an injury to Parker would be devastating in the best of circumstances, and the best these certainly are not. With Manu Ginobili out until mid-December, the Spurs have been a three-man team this season–Parker, Tim Duncan and the surprising Roger Mason. Going into Friday’s game, those were the lone San Antonio players who rated above replacement level in appreciable minutes (discounting George Hill’s solid 26-minute start to his career).

In Ginobili’s absence, Parker, not Duncan, might have been the Spurs’ most indispensable player. Now San Antonio will have to count on Mason and Hill to create offense from the perimeter, not exactly ideal for someone who had been thriving as a role player and a rookie. Parker’s scoring has to some extent help cover for a Spurs defense that improbably came into Friday worst in the league. If San Antonio is to stay alive, the defense will have to get better in a hurry.

It doesn’t help that the oven timer is ringing on Michael Finley, 0-for-8 tonight and down to 26.8 percent from the field on the season. And it might be starting to ring for Bruce Bowen, who played just 12 minutes tonight and is averaging around 20 a game so far.

Suddenly that 42-40 season SCHOENE projected for the Spurs isn’t sounding so far-fetched, is it?

- ESPN’s Heather Cox reported before the start of the second game of tonight’s double-header that the Nuggets have reached a tentative agreement to buy out Antonio McDyess‘ contract. Denver gets something out of this deal in terms of improving its luxury-tax position. Still, this takes away a fair amount of the on-court benefit the Nuggets stood to reap from the Iverson-Billups trade, as I wrote in my analysis of the deal.

Between Parker’s injury and McDyess getting bought out, it’s been a good day for teams hoping to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

UPDATE: I feel like Will Carroll all of a sudden. There’s more bad ankle news: Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks has been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and will miss the next 2-4 weeks. That puts a damper on the Hawks’ 4-0 start and impressive defense. Also, Deron Williams‘ timetable for returning from his own sprained left ankle has been pushed back another two weeks or so. The Jazz, which has started 5-0 without Williams, will be tested now by a lengthy road trip.

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