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Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Pop on Dirk: 'He's great at selling it'

By Jeff Caplan

Here's the latest from down south. The Spurs went home after Game 1 to practice:

*Coach Gregg Popovich was not happy with the foul discrepancy. The Mavs shot 20 more free throws than the Spurs and Dirk Nowitzki matched the Spurs with 12 made free throws. Popovich opted to keep his defensive plans on Nowitzki to himself, but he did have this to say about limiting Nowitzki's trip to the line where he rarely misses.

"What you can do is not foul him to death," Popovich said. "I thought sometimes we fouled him, sometimes we didn't. But you know what's going to happen in a game. You get calls one way or the other. He's great at selling it. He did a good job of shooting the basketball, getting in positions to get fouled, all that sort of thing. And we didn't play him very smart in that respect. We put him on the line more than we should have. He did make some tough shots there, no doubt about it, but he's also a Hall-of-Fame player so he's going to make those shots. It's not like it's the first time he's made a tough shot, that's for sure."

*Guard George Hill reported that his sore right ankle feels "so-so" and "a little bit tender." He said he hopes to be able to play in Game 2. As for his Game 1 performance in which the second-year guard started, he said, "It just felt like it wasn't me out there, I wasn't the same person, mainly on defense...All that mental stuff has to go out the window."

*Tony Parker remarked that the Spurs have to play better defense on Nowitzki, who compiled 36 points on 12-of-14 shooting, and Caron Butler, who scored 22 points in Game 1. Parker said, "Everyone was shooting the ball well. Even Jason Kidd was making 3s."

Surely, Parker realizes that Kidd shot better than 42 percent from behind the arc this season.

*As for Popovich saying that some Spurs played like "dogs" in Game 1, Parker said, "You know with Pop you never know what he's going to say. He was really upset, like everybody. That's [Game 2] going to be a great game to show what we can do and show our mentality, how we are going to react."

*Parker was asked if he's coming off the bench even if George Hill is unable to play: "Yeah, I'm coming off the bench." Popovich declined to give his intentions at point guard if Hill is unavailable. In games that Hill missed late in the season, rookie Garrett Temple started with Parker coming off the bench.