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News » Jefferson breaks out

Jefferson breaks out

Jefferson breaks out Hours before tipoff of Wednesday's preseason game at the AT&T Center, Los Angeles Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy spent a few minutes marveling at the Spurs' summer makeover.

Adding Richard Jefferson Dunleavy asserted, had put the Spurs right back in the thick of the NBA title chase.

Jefferson's play in the first half against Dunleavy's team made the coach look like a soothsayer.

Looking fairly comfortable in the Spurs' offense after little more than three weeks of training camp, Jefferson scored 15 points in 16 first-half minutes, surpassing his point total in the first three preseason games.

Jefferson sat out the second half of what turned out to be a 93-90 Clippers victory. But his performance gave Spurs fans reassurance that the summer deal that brought him to San Antonio and cost the team three veterans was the infusion of offensive excitement the club needed.

Jefferson, a small forward, scored on drives to the basket, post-up plays, perimeter jumpers and a semi-dunk he tomahawked a few inches short of clearing the front rim. The ball caromed to the top of the backboard and fell softly into the net.

It was Jefferson's aggression going to the basket that most pleased coach Gregg Popovich.

"I thought Richard was much more aggressive tonight than he has been," Popovich said. "He really looked a lot more comfortable in what we're doing."

Jefferson admitted to having been a tad too deferential to longtime Spurs in his first three preseason games but needed no prodding to be more assertive Wednesday.

"He's a pro," Popovich said. "He knows what he has to do. He's slowly drifting towards what his role will be on this team."

Until Wednesday, Jefferson said his role had been akin to that of a 29-year-old rookie instead of a veteran going into his ninth season.

"I'm just like a rookie out here, trying to find my way, learn the plays, learn the system, learn the timing, get to know their games," he said.

"The more you do that, and the more we play, the more aggressive I can be."

Second-year point guard George Hill knows the discomfort Jefferson felt.

"I think Richard is just like I was when I first came, not knowing what to expect," Hill said. "But he's done a great job so far, like tonight. He's being aggressive."

Jefferson said his slow start in the first three preseason games was by design.

"My job the first couple of weeks was just to learn the system," he said. "You don't necessarily want to come in here trying to prove you can score, or show them your game. It's to learn the system, figure out where you can fit in, and then be aggressive in those areas."

Clippers rookie Blake Griffin played like a seasoned pro. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 draft was 10 of 14 for 23 points.

"He's a monster," Popovich said. "He deserved to be picked where he was picked, that's for sure. He's a heck of a competitor."

The Spurs' fourth preseason game gave Popovich another long look at players trying to force their way onto the roster. Guards Malik Hairston and Marcus Williams enhanced their standing.

As a starter alongside Jefferson, Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess and Hill, Hairston scored nine points and had five assists in 23 minutes and 28 seconds.

Spurs rookie DeJuan Blair finished with his second double-double of the preseason - 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Williams logged 18 minutes and 13 seconds and scored 11 points, with two assists.

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 16, 2009


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