- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN ANTONIO -- Gregg Popovich can now relate to Tom Thibodeau and Doc Rivers, coaches who have lost their star point guards for significant time because of injury, a trend the San Antonio Spurs coach believes might be a reflection of today's NBA game.
"I think there are just more scoring point guards these days," Popovich said before Wednesday's game against the Chicago Bulls. "And the ball's in the point guards hands a lot more than I think it was in the past. I think in general the ball probably moved a lot more than in the past. And the thing that's strange to me is I think (the game) is less physical than it used to be because of the rules, especially on the perimeter so these freak things that happen may be because they are such great athletes, they get into awkward positions and stress their bodies in ways maybe people in the past didn't stress their bodies. Who knows? But it has been a preponderance of injuries at the point position, I don't know why."
The Spurs played their second game Wednesday without Tony Parker, who is expected to miss a month with an ankle injury. The Bulls have been without Derrick Rose all season because of a torn ACL, the same injury that shelved Boston's Rajon Rondo for the rest of the season.
Popovich said the loss of Parker is just the reality the Spurs face, and it's up to the rest of the team to make up for it.
"You'd rather play with (Parker) than without him, just like Derrick," Popovich said. "But I think more than anything you depend on the character, the professionalism of your players to carry on. There's two choices: You can cry and moan and nobody cares or you can play the game and compete and act like that person doesn't exist right now, and I'm sure that's what Thibs has done.
"He's going to make the same demands that he made when Derrick was there, that's not going to change. The standards are going to be just as high and film sessions and practice sessions will be the same as far as trying to prepare the team for playoffs. If Derrick's there, obviously that's great, if Tony's there obviously that's great, but without them you carry on."
The Bulls have been carrying on in large part thanks to center Joakim Noah, who made his first All-Star Game this season and is averaging 19.3 points and 13.7 rebounds over his last three games. Popovich said Noah has developed his game this season.
"The good thing is that he hasn't forgotten the things that he does well," Popovich said. "And sometimes players want to add this, and this, and this to their game and sometimes it's just not there. In his case he's still plays with great energy, rebounds, plays D, is ferocious in that regard. And he seems like he's gotten a little bit more confidence in shooting a mid-range jump shot, posting up a little bit, being a little bit more comfortable with the basketball. From the little that I've seen on film that's what I see him trying to do."