Taking a breather: Duncan, Ginobili, Parker out for Spurs vs Warriors

Gregg Popovich doesn’t understand why there’s an uproar anytime he rests his starters for a regular-season game. He doesn’t really care, either.

"It’s logical. It makes sense," Popovich said.

The Spurs gave Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili the night off Thursday at the Golden State Warriors. Tony Parker also sat out for the second straight game with a bruised right shin.

Popovich has been known to rest his veterans at times during the regular season, especially when playing road games on consecutive nights. San Antonio won at Phoenix on Wednesday night, and Duncan (37 years old) and Ginobili (36) played deep into the fourth quarter.

"How smart do you have to be to rest guys that are older than dirt?" Popovich quipped.

"Everybody has a different kind of team. I know my team. We’ve been doing this for years," he said before the game at Golden State. "We’ve been saving minutes for Timmy and Manu since the day they got here, and I think it’s prolonged their careers. We have to have them for the playoffs. … I care about the end of the season."

Last year, the Spurs drew a $250,000 fine from the NBA for sending Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and Danny Green back to San Antonio before a game at the Miami Heat. It was the finale of a six-game road trip, finishing with four games in five days.

In explaining the hefty fine, NBA Commissioner David Stern said the Spurs did not give the league or Miami prior notice of the players’ absences.

This time, the Spurs announced about 6 hours before facing Golden State that Duncan and Ginobili would be held out of the nationally televised game, and both were still in attendance. The team said earlier this week that Parker was sent back to San Antonio after he was injured in Monday’s loss at the Los Angeles Clippers.

The game against Golden State was similar to last season’s rest against Miami. San Antonio was playing the finale of a four-game trip. The Spurs host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday, which will be their seventh game in 10 nights.

"Seven (games) in 10 days, for them, that’s ridiculous," Popovich said about Duncan and Ginobili. "I can’t expect them to do that."

Against Golden State, the Spurs started Patty Mills, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Aron Baynes.

San Antonio was 1-2 last season when Duncan, Ginobili and Parker all didn’t play, including a 116-106 loss at Golden State on April 15. The Spurs, who also sat Leonard in that game, said the players were withheld because of various injuries.

Popovich’s approach has paid off. He has led the Spurs to four NBA titles and nearly a fifth last season, when they lost the Finals in Game 7 at Miami.

"This isn’t new," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "He’s been extremely successful with his method. It works. They are still a dangerous team. They’ll run their stuff, they’ll make plays and their guys will be ready."