‘Real pro’ Gorgui Dieng makes case for more playing time

Gorgui Dieng made a case for more playing time in the Spurs’ 113-111 overtime loss to Philadelphia on Sunday night.

The Spurs signed Dieng in late March with the hope he could add depth at center after LaMarcus Aldridge departed in a buyout. But since suffering a sprained shoulder March 31, the eighth-year pro has struggled to gain a foothold in Gregg Popovich’s center rotation.

But with starting center Jakob Poeltl getting the night off to rest Sunday, Dieng became the first big man off the bench after Drew Eubanks moved into the starting lineup.

Dieng finished with 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field in 31 minutes, his most as a Spur. He also had four rebounds, three assists and two steals while often charged with the difficult task of defending four-time All-Star Joel Embiid, who led the Sixers with 34 points and 12 boards.

It was Dieng’s highest point total since he tallied 19 for Memphis on Feb. 1 in a victory over the Spurs. Sunday’s game marked only the third time in nine outings with the Spurs that Dieng reached double-digit minutes.

“He’s a real pro,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s been a good addition. He just understands how to play. He’s a smart player and he’s just getting used to us, offensively and defensively. He’s getting used to his teammates and that sort of thing but doing a good job.”

That “good job” includes…

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Tom Orsborn

Tom Orsborn

San Antonio Express-News

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Sportswriter for 35 years at San Antonio Express-News, covering everything from preps to the Cowboys to the Spurs. Proud San Antonio College alum.