Tiago unchained
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter's performance in a spot start on Nov. 29 at Miami -- the infamous game in which coach Gregg Popovich didn't play his top four players -- turned out to be a jumping off point for the Brazilian center's season.

Splitter was playing just 18 minutes and averaging 8.2 points in 16 games prior to that start, but since then he has been a viable fantasy big man.

In his last 28 games, Splitter is averaging 25 minutes, 11 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and nearly one steal and one block per game while shooting close to 60 percent from the field.

Following that Miami game, Popovich put Splitter back on the bench for seven contests, but the center continued to play well. He shot 64.7 percent from the field in those games to earn a full-time spot in the starting five.

Splitter has started the last 20 games for San Antonio and averaged 10.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.0 blocks with .577/.771 shooting percentages in 26 minutes per game.

He has been even better recently, stringing together seven consecutive double- digit scoring games and averaging 12.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.9 blocks and shooting 66.7 percent from the field and 73.7 percent from the free-throw line in that span.

Splitter's ball protection has been tremendous since his final game of December. He hasn't turned the ball over more than one time in any of his last 12 contests and is averaging 0.5 giveaways per game during that stretch.

As the season progresses, Splitter's role will likely remain steady as Popovich tries to get his stars as much rest as they need prior to the postseason.

The Spurs' only other big men besides Splitter and Tim Duncan are Boris Diaw, DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner. Diaw and Blair both measure 6-foot-8 or shorter and Bonner is more of a 3-point specialist despite being 6-10. Those three aren't going to challenge Splitter's status as the top center on the team.

Splitter is still available in 69 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite ranking as the 30th overall player over the past 30 days.

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