Gregg Popovich pulls lineup out of hat, finds scrubs.

I ate Wendy's tonight. I don't particularly like Wendy's, it's simply the closest fast food joint. They put floral-print napkins in my bag. Did they simply run out of official, branded napkins? And if your car shimmies when it's idling, that's bad, right?

I think Gregg Popovich lives to tick me off.

Sunday night's game was over at halftime. The Spurs were on the road and down 27 points to a young, quality Portland team looking to avenge a recent loss. The Spurs were without Manu Ginobili and Tim was less than 100%. They had another game Monday night and a third game in four days at Dallas on Wednesday.

Here's where you throw in the towel Pop. Here's where you concede a game. Here's where you put in a young guy with promise that might actually be able to help you this year in the playoffs. What does Pop do? He leaves Mensah-Bonsu on the bench for all but the last 7 minutes of the game. This is mildly infuriating for three reasons.

Reason 1. The first reason is mere conjecture as to why Pop left Pops on the bench. Allow me to paraphrase a text message from my esteemed colleague Michael Erler:

Pop probably was displeased with the youngster's arrogance and comments to the media. All Spurs players, with the exception of Tony, must publicly think they suck at all times.

Here's what Mensah-Bonsu said after his first game as a Spur:

“(Finley) said to do what I do to make my money. ... be an energy guy all over the court, a rebounder and a finisher, and I was able to do that.

“I hope I raised a few eyebrows among the coaches, so that next game he feels comfortable to put me in when the game is still in hand.”

Well, Pops, apparently Popovich doesn't feel comfortable to put you in when the game is already decided. You should have spent your entire response talking about the one time you didn't hustle back on defense. You'll eventually learn that playing time for young Spurs is determined first on demeanor, second on which old and washed-up veteran is ahead of you, and fifteenth on how good you actually are.

Reason 2. It would be one thing if a guy like Channing Frye was taking Mensah-Bonsu's minutes. I'm not saying Frye's any good, but at least you could surmise or hope he could get better. But Pop is sending out the likes of Fabricio Oberto and Ime Udoka. We know exactly what these guys are capable of; there's nothing to learn from playing them, except for maybe how many consecutive wide open jumpers Ime can brick, or how close Fabricio can get to getting fined for flopping.

Speaking of Ime, can we just simply close the book on this guy? He's been absolutely dreadful this year, shooting 36% from the field and 31% from three (and he wasn't much better the year before, shooting 42 / 37%). His shooting numbers from both this year and last are especially awful when you consider he never has to create his own shot (not that he could if he had to). Plus, he never lived up to defensive reputation, getting absolutely abused by Kobe in the playoffs, racking up 8 fouls in 57 minutes. How bad was he? Take a look at his minutes played, starting with game 1 of the Lakers series: 25, 16, 8, 8, 0. Hmm. 2 + 2 = Ime sucked.

Reason 3. Pop loves, loves, LOVES to talk about how he doesn't really give a rat's ass about the regular season. He just wants to get the playoffs healthy, etc. If this is the case, then WHY NOT give Mensah-Bonsu and Hairston 20-25 minutes of run a night during their 10 game contracts? What benefit did the Spurs organization get from putting Kurt Thomas and Oberto on the floor for 14 and 17 minutes tonight? What benefit? Are they still learning the system? You keeping them in shape there, Pop? Trying to keep Oberto's grabbing techniques sharp?

And don't give me any of this shit about using Kurt and Oberto to try to win basketball games. Pop loves to flaunt his willingness to lose regular season games. No other coach in the NBA would sit healthy regulars in the middle of the season, and no other coach throws out the ridiculous Mason / Finley / Bowen / Udoka / Oberto lineups as much as Pop does.

Look, Pop could go into the playoffs with the Big Three and two potted plants and still be competitive. But you still have to look for improvement where improvement is possible. And right now the Spurs could improve on the likes of Finley, Udoka and Oberto. So you play the young guys with the Big 3, and you see what you got while you still have time to mess around. If Mensah-Bonsu and Hairston don't work out then you simply get your veterans back in the flow during the last 3/4 weeks of the season.

Or, if your Gregg Popovich, you orient your entire depth chart around trying to piss off a nobody Spurs-blogger. That just seems childish and silly, doesn't it?

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