Sunday, April 27, 2008

Feb. 7: But, Ask Yourself, Who The Hell Is Going To Guard Tony Parker?

April 25, 2008. Game 3: Spurs 115, Suns 99. TP, 41&12.

Check out one of my post-Shaq-trade blog where I finished it with a simple question: in a possible Spurs-Suns series, they got Big Cactus on TD, but with Matrix gone... ask yourself, who the hell is going to guard tony parker? It seems, through G1 to G3, nobody at all. Just what we witnessed on Friday night:


Parker had 13 points, Spurs led by as many as 15 points and finished the period with a 33-19 lead.


Parker had 19 points, Spurs took a 61-47 halftime lead.


Parker has 30 points and 11 assists, Spurs lead 91-72 at the end of three.


Parker burned the Suns for 41 points and 12 assists as Spurs rolled 115-99 to take a 3-0 (!) series lead.

Well, that’s a nice beating. The French Kiss turned to The Kiss Of Death for Suns.

Some nice lines/info about Tony Longoria before tonight’s Game 4:

Tim Duncan turned a year older Friday. Pressed, Spurs forward admitted his first day as a 32-year-old didn't feel much different than his last day at 31. *I feel about the same,* he joked. *Old and slow.* Luckily for Duncan, and unfortunately for Phoenix, he has a younger, quicker running buddy. Tony Parker scored a career-high 41 points and handed out 12 assists to lead Spurs to a 115-99 victory in Game 3 of their Western Conference playoff series at US Airways Center on Friday.

It gave Spurs a 3-0 series lead, pushing them within a game of eliminating Suns for the fourth time in six years. They get their first crack at that with Game 4 on Sunday. No team in NBA history has recovered from an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series. There is a reason Spurs stand on the brink of a sweep. *We possibly played our best game of the year,* coach Gregg Popovich said. Parker played the game of his life.

The 25-year-old Frenchman became the second Spurs player to score 40 points in the series. Duncan had 40 in Game 1. *C'est magnifique,* Spurs guard Brent Barry said, describing Parker's night in the point guard's native tongue. Or, roughly translated: *It was awesome.*

The only team in the NBA not to suffer a three-game losing streak during the regular season, Phoenix became the first team this year to suffer one in the playoffs. If they can't break that slide Sunday, Suns' season is over. *Whatever we tried to do, it seemed like they had an answer for it,* Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. *Everything went their way, they made it go their way, or we contributed to it.* Before the game, Parker sheepishly admitted he hadn't given Duncan anything for his birthday, but no matter. Suns are the gift that keeps on giving.

*We learned from our past mistakes where we go up 2-0, and can't get a win on the road,* Parker said. *That's why we came out firing. Me personally, same thing. I always like to start great.* Parker opened hot, throwing in jumper after jumper in the first quarter, which was a bad sign for Suns. Less than six minutes into the game, he had 10 points and six assists, and Spurs were up by double digits. Even the old, slow Duncan flashed some young and quick moments. Early in the first half, he took a feed from Parker - and promptly dunked on Stoudemire.

All of other Spurs’ highlights were lost in the glare of the most dazzling game of Parker's still budding career. For Phoenix, the frustration hit its zenith just before half. Again, Parker was the cause. After a timeout, Spurs inbounded to Parker, who weaved 60 feet in 4.2 seconds to toss in a floater at the horn. After Parker's 18th and 19th points of the first half, Stoudemire grabbed the ball from the net and flung it into the goal support. *My only focus was be aggressive, learn from the past and just be more mature,* Parker said.

Duncan celebrated a birthday Friday. Young and quick, Parker grew up as well.


Star of today: Parker learned from the past
By Buck Harvey
San Antonio Express-News

Tony Parker always admits his mistakes, so I might as well do the same. Yes, I predicted Suns would win Friday night. Yes, I also said this series would go seven games. But back to Parker, and back to how he's acted since he arrived in San Antonio as a teenager. He's always admitted what he couldn't do, and he always brought up his failures, and it's something that has helped him as much as his quickness has. Friday, in a powerful evening that said as much about his stature as a Finals MVP trophy did a year ago, Parker didn't have to admit to anything. Players always like to say the right things, as do coaches. They write instructions and inspiring messages on locker-room grease boards, and Suns had their own messages Friday night. Among them was this declaration: "We Will Make Every Big Play!"

Yes, others can be wrong, too. Parker may have said something foolish over the years, but it's hard to remember any false projections. He had confidence from the first day, but he quickly announced he'd never faced 7-foot defenders in France. He would have to learn how to shoot over them. Thus came the floater, and it was on display at the end of the first half Friday. Then, with Suns within a dozen points, Parker went the length of the floor to score at the buzzer. Amare Stoudemire stood staring at the rim, as if confused by the pregame proclamation. Who will make every big play? For Parker, the addition of the floater was just part of it. He'd lost to Shaquille O'Neal's Lakers, and he'd seen why. Parker couldn't take advantage of O'Neal's failure to defend the pick and roll.
Mike Bibby did for Sacramento then, and Parker announced what he wanted to become. *I want to be Bibby,* he said. He's become more, but the Bibby angle was in play Friday night. Then he took advantage of O'Neal, making jumper after jumper in the enormous space the Suns provided.

Shaq and Steve Nash could be the worst pick-and-roll defensive combination in the NBA, and the Phoenix crowd had reason to boo. Suns have given up 40 points to Tim Duncan and 41 to Parker in the span of three games, and just a few weeks ago the Spurs weren't breaking 80. Parker had options from the first possession, and he would have others on his way to a dozen assists. Phoenix also never challenged him, never made him shoot before he wanted to, never showed him something that confused him. It wasn't that way once before. Parker was once known for starting fast in playoff series, then disappearing. Again, he brought that up last week before anyone else could. *We can't be satisfied,* Parker said then. *Since I've been here, we've been in all kinds of situations. In 2004, we were up 2-0 against the Lakers and they came back.*

Parker was admitting to everything, as if he wanted to confront his failures. What he didn't acknowledge, however, is that Phil Jackson threw a few things at him that caused him to trip. Parker didn't care Friday about the details. He came out with his floater, with his jumper and with the realization everything had gone wrong before. When he put 19 points and seven assists on Suns in the first half, an ESPN reporter asked him on the way to the locker room why he and the Spurs came out as they did. Parker said, *We've been in this situation before.*

Nothing changed. Gregg Popovich would say later, *We possibly played our best game of the year,* and that was because Parker played better. And after he had scored more points than he ever has in the NBA, after he had sent Spurs to a 3-0 lead in the series, he stayed on message. *I learned from the past,* he said.


Yep, it looks good. Suns can’t find some way to slow Spurs’ pick-and-roll play. Parker has torched them for 33 points per game in the series. Steve Nash, apparently weary of being abused by his quicker Spurs counterpart, said Saturday he would prefer the Phoenix defense get the ball out of Parker’s hands. Asked if that scenario would create a whole different set of problems for Phoenix, Nash just chuckled.

*Right now, I’d like to see those other problems,* he said.

Parker, meanwhile, has no plans to rest on his laurels. *In the NBA, it’s all about the next game,* he said *Until we win the series, it doesn’t mean nothing.* We’ll see tonight whether Tony sends Suns fishin’.

p.s.: after making a 3-ball and with the wiz trailing by 16, deshawn stevenson had the effrontery to blow on his shooting hand to cool it down. with the way he's been shooting - his jumper and his mouth - it would have been far more appropriate for him to cock his shooting hand into the approximation of a gun, and then shoot himself in the head. (-charley rosen)
p.s.2: *better learn not to talk to me,* kobe bryant said of jr smith's trash-talking. *You shake the tree, a leopard's gonna fall out.*

Posted by Foreigner in CS - Apr 27 2008 6:35PM

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