San Antonio Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili gave his opinion on the continued recovery of Kawhi Leonard from a quad injury and the team’s success even in the absence of their star forward. According to Ginobili, the absence of Leonard gave their other players, like Bryn Forbes, Brandon Paul, and Kyle Anderson, the confidence to step up because of additional playing time. “Because they are now more responsible offensively, have more possessions, make more decisions,” Ginobili told the San Antonio Express-News. With other players stepping up in Leonard’s absence, Ginobili said the Spurs will be alright long-term.

However, Ginobili clarified that the Spurs need Leonard in the short term. “We need him out there. When he comes back, we are going to have to re-adjust,” said Manu.

Manu praises Green’s emergence

Ginobili said Leonard’s absence has allowed shooting guard Danny Green to show his potential on offense and defense. “He rebounds, blocks shots, is solid defensively, is athletic, deflects passes and stuff like that,” Ginobili said of Green. In 10 games this season, Green averaged 11.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per outing. More importantly, Green is filling up Leonard’s role on defense, averaging 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.

Earlier, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich revealed that Leonard’s rehabilitation was not going according to plan, further delaying his return this season.

Popovich did not provide a clear timetable on Leonard’s return this season. Aside from Leonard, the Spurs are playing without veteran point guard Tony Parker, newly acquired center Joffrey Lauvergne, and rookie Derrick White, who recently suffered a fractured right wrist. Lauvergne, who was seen during Wednesday’s practice taking some lessons from retired power forward Tim Duncan, is expected to play Friday when they face the Milwaukee Bucks.

Spurs improve to 7-4

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points, Green added 24, and center Pau Gasol had 19 as the Spurs extended their winning streak to three with a 120-107 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. Rudy Gay came off the bench and scored 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting as the Spurs improved to 5-1 at home and 7-4 overall.

The win was the Spurs’ 500th at the AT&T Center. Austin Rivers scored 24 points, Lou Williams chipped in 17, Blake Griffin had 15, Wesley Johnson added 12, and DeAndre Jordan contributed 11 as the Clippers dropped to 5-5 after suffering a third straight loss.