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News » NBA 2009-11-26

NBA 2009-11-26

NBA 2009-11-26By the time George Hill emerged from the back of the Spurs' team room after Monday's victory over Milwaukee, only one of his teammates remained in the locker room.

Matt Bonner had kept the media waiting for his pearls of wisdom after his six 3-pointers made him a candidate for "king of the day" on "SportsCenter."

As interviewers dispersed from Bonner's locker, Hill slid past, dressed in workout shorts and compression shirt, soaked in sweat.

Spurs strength and conditioning coach Mike Brungardt requires Spurs who play fewer than 15 minutes on game nights to put in conditioning work afterward, but Hill had logged 27 of the toughest minutes of the game, most of them spent chasing Milwaukee's super-quick rookie, Brandon Jennings, around the AT&T Center.

"Had to get in a lift," Hill said. "Got to stay strong."

Anyone wondering why Gregg Popovich has declared Hill his favorite Spur had an answer.

Hill's emergence in his second season is the most positive development of the young season for the Spurs because Tony Parker has had a slow, injury-plagued start, and Manu Ginobili's muscles have shown disquieting tendency to rebel at being pushed so hard by the Argentine dynamo.

Presuming full recovery by Ginobili, the prospect of teaming him with Hill and Parker, in various combinations, gives Popovich situational flexibility he hasn't had.

Already, Hill makes a defensive impact for a team trying to regain its identity as one of the NBA's stingiest.

Jennings came into the AT&T Center on Monday as the NBA's No. 8 scorer, a rookie with a 55-point game on his r?sum?. In Hill, he encountered a defender with near-equal quickness, unnaturally long arms and experience chasing one of the fastest players in Basketball.

"All I was hearing before the game was how fast he was," Hill said, "but in my mind, I was saying, 'He can't be that much faster than (Tony Parker).'"

In fact, Jennings seemed quicker than Parker, with breathtaking ability to stop and rise for a jumper. That he misfired on 15 of 21 shots is tribute to Hill's defensive tenacity and length and the inevitability of Basketball. Jennings isn't going to make 49 percent of his 3-point shots all season, as he had before Monday.

On first impression, Jennings seems to have a nice on-court demeanor, very much like Hill's: all business; no bravado.

There are plenty of general managers who wish they had taken Jennings in the 2009 draft, and another bunch who have to admit they misread Hill in 2008.

One NBA player personnel executive insists the Spurs , and the Spurs alone, had Hill ticketed for the first round on draft day, 2008.

Where would Hill go if there were a do-over for that class?

Check the 14 2008 lottery selections, and it is fair to suggest Hill is more productive than Joe Alexander, D.J. Augustin, Jerryd Bayless and Brandon Rush. Examine the non-lottery players taken ahead of Hill, and at least five teams aren't getting as much as the Spurs receive from Hill: Phoenix (Robin Lopez), Washington (JaVale McGee) Charlotte (Alexis Ajinca), Utah (Kostas Koufas) and Oklahoma City (Serge Ibaka).

True, all five are big men who need development, but we're all about the here and now, aren't we?

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 26, 2009


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