Follow the team all season long with the 20-Second Timeout blog by Bill Schoening, The Radio Voice of the Spurs for the past 10 years. Bill has over 30 years of play-by-play experience including broadcasting Major League Baseball, the NFL and the NBA.

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All Star Break Arrives Right on Time
by Bill Schoening | Feb. 28, 2012

Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili
(Garrett Elwood/Getty Images)

Even though the All Star break is usually called the halfway point of the season, it normally comes about seven or eight games past the actual 41 game mark, which is normally the halfway point. This season, with the compressed 66 game schedule, most teams are right at or very close to being halfway through the 2011-2012 season. For the Spurs, the All Star Break came at a very good time. It comes at the tail end of the Rodeo Road Trip, and provides a nice little break before play resumes with a seven game homestand. Even though the Spurs finished the trip with an impressive 8-1 record, the timing was good for a respite.

After staying healthy during his rookie campaign, some tightness developed in the calf of Kawhi Leonard durnig the first half at Denver. He did not play in the BBVA Bank Rising Stars Challenge in Orlando. A strained calf also kept second year center Tiago Splitter from participating. The All Star break came at a good time for those two players to get rest and gear up for the second half. Manu Ginobili, who missed the final three games of the trip with a strained oblique muscle, was also able to benefit from the time off. Health will be a major factor for the Spurs during the stretch run and the playoffs, and one player eager to return is backup point guard T.J. Ford. The former Longhorn is set to return from a torn hamstring (suffered on Jan. 10th) and provide Tony Parker with an experienced backup at the point guard spot. This will also allow Gary Neal to concentrate more on his shooting guard duties, although he showed he could help out in a pinch at that spot.

Although no one likes to see players go down with injuries, it's good to know that other guys can step up when called upon, and that's one of the main reasons the Spurs are atop the Southwest Division as we get ready for March and April.

Perception Not Reality
by Bill Schoening | Feb. 22, 2012

Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images)

During the course of the NBA season, sports talk radio stations from around the country will ask me to appear as a guest, usually to discuss the NBA in general and specifically the Spurs. Since I am a guest for stations from Philly to LA, I can get a pretty accurate gauge on how "sports" people perceive the Spurs, and I must say perception still differs from reality.

Recently questions have centered around the Spurs' recent success "despite their advanced age". Yes, Tim Duncan is 35, but he is still playing at a high level, as is 34 year old Manu Ginobili when healthy.

What folks tend to overlook is the critical and significant contributions made by second year NBA players Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal, third year players DeJuan Blair and Danny Green and by rookie Kawhi Leonard. Yes, Tony Parker is in his 11th NBA season, but is still a few months shy of his 30th birthday.

To get my point across on a recent show, I quoted an old Bob Dylan tune, "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." Slowly but surely, folks are taking notice. A recent host in Portland asked me questions about Gary Neal and Danny Green. Those guys are easy to talk about!

PJ Still Family
by Bill Schoening | Feb. 14, 2012

PJ Carlesimo, Tim Duncan
(Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images)

As Manu Ginobili trotted on to the Prudential Center Court in Newark to get some shots up before the Spurs' game with the Nets, he heard a very familiar voice "Emmanuel" yelled Nets' assistant PJ Carlesimo. Manu and PJ hugged, had a brief visit and Carlesimo allowed Ginobili to get back to work. 

It's been four seasons since Carlesimo was a trusted lieutenant on Coach Gregg Popovich's staff. He was the head Coach of the Sonics when they were going through a tough rebuilding phase, went with the team to Oklahoma City and was relieved of his duties shortly thereafter. He resurfaced as an assistant in Toronto before he got a welcome call from Avery Johnson, inviting him to return to his roots and help AJ build the Nets from the ground up.

"You know me, I just can't keep a job," joked
Carlesimo, "But seriously this has been great. I love it here and my family is all here. We (the Nets) just have to get healthy."

Carlesimo still follows the Spurs closely and likes what he sees. "I am really impressed with Timmy (Duncan) and Tiago (Splitter)," says Carlesimo. "They are starting to work the high low game and that will leave open spaces for your three point shooters. With the way Tony is pushing the ball the Spurs are scary. If these guys are all healthy and playing like this in late April and May, I really like the Spurs' chances."

Parker Sets the Tone
by Bill Schoening | Feb. 7, 2012

Tony Parker
(D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images)

When the Spurs got back to work in December, there was one Spur ready to skip the formalities of training camp and preseason games. Point guard Tony Parker had already been through ten previous training camps, and was eager to play games since he was already in game shape after playing with the French National team and with Villerbaune in the French A league.

At the time, Parker didn't know how much of a load he was going to shoulder. Early January injuries to his longtime backcourt mate Manu Ginobili and his primary backup TJ Ford put more of a burden on Parker, in terms of offensive responsibilities, leadership, and minutes on the floor. Parker has responded with a career high assist average while leading the team in scoring and quarterbacking the club through a potentially turbulent period.

Parker says head coach Gregg Popovich deserves credit as well. "Pop is doing a good job of managing my minutes, and the way I play my minutes, like not playing me for long stretches." says the 11 year vet. "We will have some off days during the rodeo trip so I just have to survive and then hopefully Manu and TJ will come back soon. There is a light at the end of the tunnel." Parker's 42 point, 9 assist performance in a 107-96 win over Oklahoma City Saturday night was special enough, but in the third quarter of that game, Parker surpassed Avery Johnson as the franchise's all time assist leader.

Very good Tony...tres bien!