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Tim Duncan jokingly calls it the David Robinson Syndrome.

Each season Robinson creaked through the first two or three months, loosening his back, trying to find both his rhythm and his shot. Each season, Duncan, albeit with a little better lumbar support, did the same.

"It always seems to happen that way," Duncan said. "As David used to say, once the train starts rolling, it's a lot easier."

These days the train appears to be clicking along just fine. In the past four games Duncan has averaged 32.3 points, 15.5 rebounds and three blocks. His body, which has had little rest in 16 months, feels better. So does his shot.

He's started to outmuscle defenders and post closer to the basket. He's shooting quicker. He's taking the ball to the rim stronger. He's still not making many free throws, but he thinks it's only a matter of time before he cures even that problem.

"He's playing," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, "like the MVP he's been."
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