Spurs hit two homers

SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:47 AM ET

Matt Bonner and Roger Mason Jr., two guys who had to scrap for every minute of playing they got when they were Raptors, returned last nigh in much more prominent roles with the Spurs.

Bonner, with the departure of Robert Horry at the end of last season, has been a starter since Dec. 2. Mason has started in the backcourt beside Tony Parker for 42 of the Spurs' first 50 games this season.

Neither were highly touted players coming out of college but both find themselves, albeit somewhat later in their careers, playing significant roles on a team with championship aspirations.

"We try to find people who feel they like have something to prove or are team-oriented and have their priorities set," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "They've pretty much gotten over themselves and care about the group, they're not too worried about the hoopla of the NBA. We really work hard to try to sign those kind of guys. Good fortune has to enter into it too. It's a pretty subjective thing so you have to hope you're making the right choices."

With Bonner and Mason Jr., the Spurs hit home runs.

Bonner spent a lot of time at the end of Popovich's bench last season but through a lot of hard work and persistence has made himself a starter.

"With Matt I learned last year the best way to coach him was to shut up," Popovich said, referring to Bonner's tendency to be extremely hard on himself. "Timmy (Duncan) coaches him now," Popovich said. "I just shut up."

Mason's San Antonio revival was a little different.

"Different players reach a peak at different times and opportunity has a lot to do with it," Popovich said. "(Mason) had all the qualities we were looking for and we knew he shot the ball well but given the playing time he has gotten, he has used it very wisely."


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