Parker too much for Blazers Parker too much for Blazers
By Jeff McDonald
Over the course of the past week, the Spurs have learned more than they ever wanted to about human anatomy.
Thanks to Manu Ginobili, they learned where the distal fibula is. Thanks to Tim Duncan, they learned the difference between tendinitis and tendonosis.
They also learned something else: Tony Parker, with two healthy legs built for speed, can be a pretty good cure for whatever ails them.
With Duncan and Ginobili sidelined for the second-straight night Wednesday, Parker carried the Spurs to their second-straight victory, pumping in 39 points to help bury Portland 99-84 at the AT&T Center.
In that, it looked awfully similar to what happened one night earlier, when Parker scored 37 to beat Dallas.
“Tony Parker was a super stud again,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, repeating the moniker he'd given his All-Star point guard 24 hours before. “He was just fantastic.”
Ginobili missed his fifth game in a row with a stress reaction in his right distal fibula, a small bone on the top of the ankle. Duncan missed his second with what team doctors diagnosed as tendonosis in his right quad.
Behind Parker's encore, and another black-and-blue defensive effort, the Spurs (39-17) won anyway to push their winning streak to four games.
In many ways, Wednesday's victory was a carbon copy of the Spurs' 93-76 triumph against Dallas, another playoff contender.
Parker scored at will. Matt Bonner (15 points) and Michael Finley (13) outstripped their season scoring averages. The Spurs' defense knocked the Trail Blazers (35-22) back to the stone age, limiting them to 37.6 percent shooting, and holding star guard Brandon Roy to just 14 points on 5 of 18 shooting.
“The last four games, we've been the defensive team we've been in the past,” Popovich said. “If we can continue that, I think we'll be a pretty good team.”
For the second night in a row, Parker was the offensive showpiece for the Spurs.
He scored 12 points in the second quarter, 21 in the first half and 11 in the game's final 5:57 to put it away. He shot 17 of 27 and also handed out nine assists. By the time he was done, Parker had scored more points than any Blazers opponent this season.
His totals in the back-to-back: 76 points, 32 of 59 from the field, and 21 assists.
Parker had finished Tuesday night's game on fumes, beset by leg cramps in the fourth quarter. He learned just 40 minutes before that game that Duncan wouldn't be suiting up.
Wednesday, he had more warning, and more time to prepare for his nightly marathon.
“I prepared myself to be ready to play like 40 minutes,” Parker said. “I drank a lot of fluids, a lot of water.”
For the most part, Parker's teammates did their best not to become spectators.
“He's got the penetration game, the drive game,” Bonner said. “When he's knocking down jump shots, too, I don't know how anyone can guard him.”
Don't ask Portland coach Nate McMillan. Like Dallas coach Rick Carlisle before him, he threw the kitchen sink at Parker.
“He was like a roadrunner out there,” McMillan said. “Just blowing by us.”
It was an apt characterization. In this Warner Bros. version of Spurs basketball, the Blazers played the part of Wile E. Coyote. Every trap they set on Parker blew up in their faces.
Even when they defended him well, things went awry.
Rudy Fernandez had just scored a driving layup over Parker with 3.4 seconds left in the third, pulling Portland within 71-63. In a blink, Parker received the inbound pass, wiggled up the court and hit a contested 25-footer as the horn blared.
That gave the Spurs a 74-63 to take into the fourth quarter.
Later, Parker finished off Portland with a final scoring flurry, then beat a path to the locker room. With a day off before the Spurs welcome Cleveland on Friday, Parker was ready for some rest.
“It will be a good day off,” Parker predicted. “I'm going to do nothing.”
After two nights of doing everything for the Spurs, a little bit of nothing was well-earned.