Spurs Rely on Hill of a Player
Unheralded George Hill, of all people, didn't let it happen. As Tom Ziller of FanHouse predicted, Hill stepped right up into Parker's role and produced, not the least bit intimidated by teammates already wearing championship rings.
"Anytime you're in charge of a team with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili there's a lot on your shoulders. The expectations are high,'' Hill said before the Spurs played the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. "But somebody had to step up. I wanted to be that guy, the guy who helped us win games.''
Hill, who struggled last season as a rookie, already had started 21 games for the Spurs, mostly as an undersized shooting guard alongside Parker, and had played surprisingly well.
It's why Spurs coach Gregg Popovich handed him the keys and told him to drive when Parker went down, as long as he remembered that Duncan and Ginobilli are in the car.
"George Hill has been fantastic, probably the most improved player in the league this year,'' Popovich said. "We'd be in big trouble without him. He's just done a really good job for us.''
Popovich also was speaking before the game, with his team having won nine of its previous 10 contests. The only loss was by two points in Cleveland. Hill had started the last five games at point guard. Parker is not expected back until the end of the regular season.
"I felt last season that I deserved to be here, but it was just a matter of getting my feet wet,'' he said. "It's just basketball. I know what to expect now, and my teammates know what to expect of me.''
Hill, the 26th pick of the 2008 draft from IUPUI, has scored in double figures in 23 of his last 26 games. His scoring average of 12.1 points is 6.4 better than he averaged last season, the second largest jump among all players taken in the 2008 draft.
Hill struggled through much of the game Wednesday -- his worst as a starter -- but it came one night after getting 16 points and four assists in a victory in Miami.
"This is not intimidating. This was my dream to play in the NBA, and to be a great player with responsibility on my shoulders,'' he said. "I've taken that challenge with open arms.''