Parker has answer

Parker has answer
Web Posted: 01/20/2005 12:00 AM CST
Johnny Ludden
Express-News Staff Writer
Two months ago, Tony Parker might have taken the 3-pointer. With the clock ticking, a defender jumping at him and the crowd on its feet, he could have panicked and let fly.
Parker, however, isn’t the player he was two months ago. And the Spurs are much better for it.
After pump-faking a 3-point shot in the left corner, Parker darted along the baseline and banked in the winning layup with 7.8 seconds left Wednesday night, lifting the Spurs to an 80-79 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in front of 17,603 at the SBC Center.
“Finally,” said Parker, who finished with a game-high 25 points. “We won a close one.”
The Spurs haven’t needed to win too many close ones this season. At the midpoint of their schedule, they stand a franchise-best 32-9. For at least two nights, they also will look down on the rest of the NBA.
Phoenix’s loss to Memphis dropped the Suns a half-game behind the Spurs. The teams meet Friday at America West Arena.
Manu Ginobili returned after missing Monday’s victory over Washington, but he now has a sore left quadriceps to go with the bruise on his right one. Rasho Nesterovic landed hard on his right hip. Robert Horry left in the third quarter after his right kneecap popped out, then back.
Aside from being slightly battered and bruised, the Spurs left the SBC Center feeling pretty good. Which is noticeably better than they felt before their final possession.
After opening a 13-point lead, they watched the Clippers rally to go ahead 79-78 on Bobby Simmons’ free throws with 19.2 seconds left. After a timeout, Ginobili was given the ball on a pick-and-roll. He had the option of trying to get to the rim or driving and passing the ball to either Parker or Brent Barry in the corners.
Clippers guard Quinton Ross left Parker to cut off Ginobili, who fired the ball back to Parker. As Ross flew at him, Parker raised up as if he was going to shoot. With Ross in no position to stop him, Parker brought the ball down, then bolted along the baseline, splitting Clippers center Chris Kaman and forward Elton Brand.
Parker released the shot, which cork-screwed off the glass and through the rim. It was the only shot the Spurs made in the final 8 minutes, 13 seconds.
“The patience (Parker) showed on the last play was fantastic,” coach Gregg Popovich said.
Los Angeles still had a chance to win, but Brand’s 9-foot turnaround wasn’t on line. Ginobili secured the rebound, one of the few the Spurs were able to take away.
Popovich, who has criticized his team’s play at the end of close games, was pleased with the Spurs’ offensive and defensive execution on the final two possessions.
“We could have packed it in,” Popovich said. “We ended up grinding it out down the stretch.”
The Spurs held the Clippers to 37.2 percent shooting in the first half yet still trailed 41-40 because they didn’t often finish their defense with a rebound. At halftime, Los Angeles had nine offensive rebounds to the Spurs’ one.
The Spurs might have had an easier time blocking out Los Angeles’ big men if they had been able to keep more of their own on the floor. Nesterovic and Horry each picked up three fouls in the first half, Tony Massenburg two.
Nesterovic had to go back to the bench four minutes into the third quarter after receiving his fourth foul. Not long after, Horry exited after injuring his right knee.
As a result, Malik Rose was called on and delivered a spirited 11-minute effort with three rebounds, a block and a steal.
Said Popovich: “He really showed good professionalism.”
Popovich also had kind words for Parker, who repeatedly beat the Clippers’ guards off the dribble. He has scored at least 20 points in seven of the past eight games.
That’s a big difference from the first month of the season when Popovich chided him for forcing too many 3-point shots.
“I think it’s really maturity and confidence,” Popovich said. “I think he really feels he’s finally in charge of what’s going on out there. He has the green light out there to do what’s best.”


路过一下。。 YMPK。。