Tony Parker

Did you feel that?

That kidney shot, that dagger to the heart, that excruciating experience that was watching the Spurs fall to the Heat in this year’s NBA Finals?

When Tony Parker hit that wild turnaround over LeBron James to seal a Game 1 win, the shot clock seemingly stuck at 0.1 seconds for an eternity, it became the Spurs’ series to lose. After responding to the Game 2 loss with a 36-point shellacking of the Heat in Game 3, it seemed like they were well on their way to locking up their fifth NBA championship.

The teams exchanged victories in Games 4 and 5 before returning to Miami for Game 6. One more victory was all the Spurs needed. How sweet would it be for Commissioner David Stern to give Gregg Popovich that coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy in front of thousands of fickle, undeserving Heat fans?


It would be the perfect ending for Stern to hand the trophy over to the same Spurs he fined $250,000 last November for sitting its players in the only regular season meeting against Miami.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

The Spurs imploded in Game 6. Popovich proved even the best coaches make mistakes when he sat Tim Duncan on the last two defensive possessions before the Heat forced overtime with back-to-back three-pointers from James and Ray Allen. At the end of overtime, Manu Ginobili couldn’t finish at the rim. Danny Green was blocked by Chris Bosh at the buzzer.
It’s the kind of Game 6 loss that predetermines the outcome of Game 7.


But if there was any team that could bounce back from such a demoralizing loss, it was the Popovich-led Spurs. Yet, they never took control of the game. The Heat triumphed, as James and Co. celebrated their second straight title.

The team that was bought beat the team that was built.

This one is going to sting for a while.

In a bizarre reversal of Sunday’s Game 2, Game 3 of the NBA Finals featured a massive San Antonio blowout of the Miami Heat at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, with help for the Spurs coming from some rather unexpected places.

The Spurs took down the Heat 113-77 Tuesday night, the third largest margin of victory in NBA Finals history. After a nearly thirty point loss in Miami only two nights before, the Spurs clearly adjusted – pulling players, running in transition and going with some unorthodox lineups by keeping deep bench players on the floor for most of the game.

Danny Green and Gary Neal combined for 51 points off the bench on Tuesday. That’s 26 more than Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili combined.

Green’s final line included 27 points and four rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting from the three point line. Neal was right behind him with 24 points (a new playoff career high) and four rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, including a long buzzer beater just before halftime. (Perhaps his shoes had something to do with it – he was wearing a pair from former Longhorn Kevin Durant’s line with Nike).

Kawahi Leonard went for 14 points and 12 rebounds boasting 2-of-3 from three and Duncan provided his usual push with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Former Longhorn Cory Joseph chipping in with four assists.

Parker started off strong with six points, two rebounds and eight assists, but ended up sitting for much of the second half after sustaining a hamstring injury. He will have an MRI Wednesday morning and is questionable for Game 4.

The Spurs set an NBA Finals record with 16 three-pointers, most of them coming from bench players.

Miami Heat suffered from porous defense, frustrating offense and a disturbingly quiet night from star forward LeBron James. James finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. By late in the third quarter, 10 other players in the game had more points than James, who shot just 7-of-21 from the floor.

Dwyane Wade struggled his way to 16 points and five assists while Chris Bosh went for 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. The bright spot for the Heat was Mike Miller who could not miss Tuesday evening and was largely responsible for keeping the score close for much of the game. Miller contributed 15 points, all coing from a perfect 5-of-5 night from the three-point range.

Two other major contributing factors: free throws and rebounds. The Spurs got to the free throw line 19 times and sank 11 of those shots. Miami got to the stripe 10 times and made seven. Miami was also decisively out-rebounded, pulling down just 36 to the Spurs’ 52.

The Spurs, who lead the series 2-1, will face Miami in Game 4 at 8 p.m. Thursday in San Antonio. 

When two of the league's deepest and most talented teams collided Thursday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the results could've hardly been better. This game had a little something for everybody: intense pace, execution and mind-blowing heroics from superstars. 

The rest versus rust debate regarding the San Antonio Spurs after ten days off was quickly and decisively laid to rest after a blistering first quarter. Down four at the half, the patient Spurs got what they needed to come back for a 92-88 statement win and a 1-0 lead in the Finals. And all with only four turnovers. On the road. In the finals.

Tim Duncan was his usual consistent self, putting up a more-than-solid 20 points and 14 rebounds. Manu Ginobili chipped in 13 points and both Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard combined for 22 points on 7-of-18 shooting with 15 rebounds.  And then there was Tony Parker. 

Parker finished with 21 points and 50 percent shooting with six assists, though it felt more like 50 points and 18 assists. Plus the crossover, the spin move. And that shotclock beater was essential. 

However, the Miami Heat did not give up easily. The Heat outscored the Spurs in the first two quarters. Dwayne Wade scored 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting and Chris Bosh went for 14 points. Ray Allen went 3-of-4 from the three point line and finished with 13 points from the bench. LeBron James notched a triple double (18/18/10) but failed to meet expectations, scoring 18 points in Game 1. 

In Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, the Spurs fell to the Miami Heat 84-103 to tie the series at one win apiece. The Heat took advantage of an uncharacteristic fourth quarter breakdown and 16 turnovers by the Spurs. 

The game was won towards the end of the third quarter when Miami ripped off a 33-5 run in which they had 6-of-7 shooting, 5-of-5 coming from the three point range. 

San Antonio's Big Three struggled throughout the contest combining for 27 points, 16 rebounds, two assists and nine turnovers. Parker had 13 points with five assists and five rebounds. Duncan had what was arguably the worst playoff performance of his career with nine points, 11 rebounds and only one assist, shooting just 3-of-13. 

The Spurs, however, did get some help from their bench in Leonard, who contributed nine points, 14 rebounds and two assists. Green was perfect from the three-point range shooting 6-of-6. Former Longhorn Cory Joseph added eight points and three rebounds. 

James contributed 17 points for the Heat with eight rebounds and seven assists. Bosh had his best game since facing the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, shooting 6-of-10. Wade had 10 points with two rebounds and six assists. 

Mario Chalmers, however, headlined for the Heat. Chalmers went for 19 points and four rebounds. 

The Spurs and Heat face off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. in San Antonio for Game 3. 

PARIS— Spurs guard Tony Parker can play for European runner-up France in the Olympic Games after San Antonio’s doctors agreed he has recovered from an eye injury.

Parker scratched his left cornea during a nightclub melee in New York last month.

“The two ophthalmologists (from the Spurs) confirmed the opinion of the French doctor who operated on Tony Parker, and the two Swiss specialists who also examined the player last Thursday, and indicated that he can resume playing,” the French Basketball Federation said on Friday, adding that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich also gave his blessing.

France’s first game at the Olympics is against the United States on July 29.

“It is great news and a relief for the whole France team,” coach Vincent Collet said. “I spoke with Tony on the phone and he sounded very happy — and also relieved — about this development. It was a difficult and alarming situation for everyone.”

Parker was included on the team’s 12-man Olympic roster as he waited to see whether his injury would heal in time.

He was hurt by shards of flying glass in a nightclub fight involving singer Chris Brown and members of hip-hop star Drake’s entourage.

Parker scored 26 points for France when it lost last year’s European final 98-85 to Spain.

France will be missing Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, who is still recovering from a left ankle injury he hurt during the NBA playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker says he suffered a scratched retina on one of his eyes during a New York City nightclub brawl involving singer Chris Brown and members of hip-hop star Drake’s entourage.

Parker, wearing dark sunglasses, described the incident Friday in Paris during a news conference posted on YouTube. He said he expects to be sidelined for about a week while the French team prepares for the Summer Olympics.

Parker said he was wearing a “therapeutic” contact lens and had to go to an emergency room for treatment after arriving in Paris.

Parker said: “I was with my friend, Chris Brown, and me and my friends took some punches, so I’ll be missing the start of the French team, because I can’t do anything for a week except keep the lens in and then take drops.”

Police said Brown, his girlfriend and his bodyguard were among several people injured during the bottle-hurling fight early Thursday at W.i.P in SoHo.

Parker said “they started throwing bottles everywhere. I don’t know what happened. At first it was OK, but then it started getting worse, and when the plane landed it was really hurting, so I went straight to the ER.”

The Spurs declined to comment.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

For all the points, rebounds and assists that filled Kevin Durant's impressive stat line, it was a defensive play he made that fired up his coach and teammates.

"That's his first charge of the year," Russell Westbrook interjected when Durant, who played for the Longhorn basketball team during his freshman year at UT, was asked about drawing an offensive foul against Manu Ginobili in the fourth quarter of Oklahoma City's 107-99 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday night.

Indeed, it was.

The league's three-time scoring champion had 34 points and 14 rebounds while playing all of regulation for the first time all season, leading the Thunder into the NBA finals. But it was taking that charge that got his team pumped up.

Durant stepped in front of Ginobili's drive during a 3½-minute scoreless stretch by San Antonio that allowed Oklahoma City to take the lead for good.

"I just wanted to go out there and sacrifice my body for my team. I knew that would give us a little spark," Durant said.

"Manu's an unbelievable player at twisting his body and making crazy shots, so I just wanted to time it right. It felt good to get that for my team and I could tell they were excited that I got my first one when I looked at the bench."

Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who trailed by 18 in the first half and erased a 15-point halftime deficit.

The Thunder took the lead for good early in the fourth quarter, getting nine of their first 13 points on free throws as the fouls started to pile up for San Antonio — six on the defensive end and three on the offensive end in the first 7 minutes.

That included Durant's stop just outside the restricted area under the basket.

"Down the stretch, it seemed like they got every whistle possible and that really changed the tide," San Antonio's Tim Duncan said. "We were playing tough defense and trying to get stops, but the whistle kept blowing and they went to the line."

Tony Parker finished with 29 points and 12 assists, but only eight of the points and two assists came after San Antonio took a 63-48 halftime lead. Duncan chipped in 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Stephen Jackson hit six 3-pointers and scored 23 points.

The Spurs had won 20 in a row, moving past the Thunder for home-court advantage in the West and then taking a 2-0 lead in the series, before losing four in a row.

"There's not much to complain about," Ginobili said. "We had a great run. We just couldn't beat these guys."

Durant grabbed the final rebound, dribbled the ball across half court and raised his right fist to celebrate with a sold-out crowd wearing free white T-shirts. The franchise will play for the NBA title for the first time since 1996, when it was in Seattle.

Game 1 of the NBA finals will be Tuesday night in Oklahoma City against either Boston or Miami. The Celtics lead that series 3-2 and can earn a trip to the finals with a win at home in Game 6 on Thursday night.

Durant celebrated even before the final buzzer, hugging his mother and brother seated courtside after a foul was called with 14 seconds remaining.

"I never want to take those moments for granted," Durant said. "I know it's just one step closer to our dreams, but it felt good."

Coach Scott Brooks said he was not going to take Durant out of the game, no matter how many times his All-Star gave him a fatigued look.

"Kevin's an amazing young man," Brooks said. "His stat line is not even close to who he is as a young man. He's respected by his teammates, by the staff, by the city. He's a great ambassador to this league and I'm proud to coach him. He wants to be coached.

"He's a great leader."

The Thunder, only three years removed from a 3-29 start that had them on pace for the worst record in NBA history, went through the only three West teams to reach the finals since 1998 — Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio — to earn their shot at the title.

Derek Fisher and James Harden hit 3-pointers in a three-possession span to increase the lead to 99-93 with 3:13 remaining. Jackson, who had made his previous six 3-pointers, and Parker both missed 3s that would have gotten the Spurs within 103-102 in the final minute.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich thought the game was lost in the third quarter, when the Spurs were "playing in mud."

The Spurs got quick offense in the first half and made 9 of 15 from 3-point range while shooting 55 percent overall.

Parker, who had been largely bottled up ever since the Thunder put 6-foot-7 defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha on him in Game 3, had a hand in the Spurs' first 12 baskets, making seven on his own and assisting on the other five.

Kawhi Leonard and Jackson followed his three-point play by nailing back-to-back 3-pointers for a 34-16 advantage in the final 2 minutes of the first quarter.

The youthful Thunder stormed back with an 11-2 run to start the third quarter and eventually pulled ahead after Durant's 3-pointer from the top of the key made it 79-77 with 1:41 left in the period.

"We can't have their legs, their energy. We are never going to jump as high or run as fast," Ginobili said. "But the first half we did a great job, we just moved the ball to find teammates, made shots. In the second half, they were very active and we couldn't find anything easy."

Daily Texan staff member Nick Hadjigeorge contributed to this report. 

Spurs guard Danny Green throws down an emphatic dunk in San Antonio’s 114-83 victory over the Utah Jazz Wednesday evening at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. The Spurs now travel to Utah with a 2-0 series lead.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker scored 18 points and the San Antonio Spurs handed Utah its second-worst playoff loss in franchise history, beating the Jazz 114-83 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.

NBA Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich practically put the Spurs on autopilot after a 20-0 run in the second quarter that stunned the Jazz, who had vowed to play better after the Spurs easily won Game 1. But this humiliating rout was even easier.

The Jazz never quite greeted Parker with the hard fouls the All-Star was supposed to have coming, and the Utah frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap wasn’t any more imposing on offense. Jefferson scored 10 points, and Millsap had nine.

Game 3 is Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

The only bigger embarrassment for the Jazz in the playoffs was a 42-point loss to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals.

It’s the first time the Spurs have led a series 2-0 since opening the 2008 playoffs against Phoenix. San Antonio won that series in five, and unless the Jazz can shake this off, this one will be over just as quick.

If not sooner.

“We were aggressive and we wanted to make sure we matched their energy,” Parker said.

It was a total collapse by the Jazz in spite of flying back to Salt Lake City and regrouping with two days of practice after losing the opener Sunday. Back home, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin admitted feeling unusually nervous before that Game 1, but said before tipoff this time that those jitters were under control.

By the second quarter, Corbin appeared to be wrestling with disgust.

That’s when the Spurs held the Jazz scoreless for more than seven minutes while rookie Kawhi Leonard and unheralded swingman Danny Green outplayed the Jazz’s stars. Utah shot 5 of 28 in the second quarter and the Jazz filed off the court at halftime walking slow, heads down and quiet.

It had been only minutes earlier the Jazz were as close as 31-26. But the Spurs blew the game open so comfortably and quickly that Parker and Duncan never left the bench in the fourth quarter.

Jefferson and Howard, who also had 10 points, were Utah’s leading scorers.

It was the most lopsided postseason win for the Spurs since beating the Nuggets by 28 in 2005. San Antonio’s playoff record is a 40-point victory over Denver in 1983.

Duncan finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Leonard scored 17 points, and Green had 13.

At least the Jazz didn’t look the most embarrassed the entire night. Popovich again had to show off his coach of the year trophy before the game, this time for fans while standing between Duncan and Spurs great David Robinson. Popovich obliged for several seconds before scrambling to hand the trophy off to one of his assistants as fast as possible.

Printed on Thursday, May 3, 2012 as: San Antonio dismantles Utah, commands 2-0 series lead

Tony Parker had 34 points and 14 assists, and the San Antonio Spurs extended their season-best winning streak to nine games with a 113-106 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.

Danny Green scored 13 points and matched his career high with seven rebounds, Tiago Splitter also had 13 points and Manu Ginobili added 11 for the Spurs, who have not lost since a 101-100 overtime defeat at Dallas on Jan. 29.

Parker went 12 for 12 from the foul line for San Antonio, which last won nine straight during a 10-0 stretch from Dec. 3-22, 2010. The victory was the sixth straight away from home for the Spurs, their longest run since winning eight straight road games to begin the
2010-11 season.

San Antonio’s Tim Duncan failed to extend his run of five straight double-doubles, finishing with eight points and three rebounds.

DeMar DeRozan scored 29 points for the Raptors, who have lost three straight and eight of 10. Jose Calderon added 16 points and 11 assists.

Toronto guard Jerryd Bayless missed his fourth straight game with a sore left ankle, while forward Linas Kleiza was sidelined with a sore left knee. Leading scorer Andrea Bargnani sat for the 18th time in 20 games because of a strained left calf.

“We’re a little undermanned,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said before the game. “If anybody is looking for a 10-day [contract], we’re looking for bodies.”

Toronto trailed by five points to begin the fourth, but used a pair of baskets by Calderon and a driving layup by DeRozan to cut it to one at 97-96 with 4:14 left.

San Antonio answered with a baseline jump shot by Gary Neal and a pair of free throws by Parker, restoring their five point advantage with 3:25 left.

Parker made all eight of his free-throw attempts down the stretch as the Spurs improved to 23-9 all-time against Toronto.

Green got all seven of his rebounds and made three of San Antonio’s six 3-pointers in the opening half as the Spurs, who shot 6 for 10 from beyond the arc, led 55-45 at the break.

Toronto battled back by making its first 10 shots of the second half. DeRozan scored 13 points in less than six minutes, and the Raptors followed with a layup from James Johnson that tied it at 66.

Tony Parker appreciates San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich’s conservation plan.

During this condensed NBA season, Parker said Popovich is rarely allowing anyone to play more than 40 minutes, a strategy that contributed to the Spurs’ 89-84 victory Monday night over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Parker, playing 36 minutes, scored 21 points, and Tim Duncan added 19 points and a season-high 17 rebounds in 32 minutes.

“I think Pop tries to keep us fresh,” Parker said. “It’s rare that me, or anyone, plays 40 minutes. Over the course of the season, if you have to play 38 or 40 minutes a game, it’s tough. It takes its toll.”

Memphis, minus Zach Randolph indefinitely and Tony Allen the past two games, was forced to use starters Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley for 40-plus minutes. Gasol had 22 points to lead the Grizzlies, while Conley scored 19 and Gay 18.

Gay said the Grizzlies, who lost their third straight, expended their energy fighting back from a 14-point first-half deficit to take a six-point lead entering the final quarter.

“It was tough,” Gay said. “A couple of guys were fatigued from playing a lot of heavy minutes. It was one of those games that slipped away from us.”

The Grizzlies were outscored 22-11 in the fourth quarter. The 11 points represented a season low for a single quarter.

“We made some shots and got some stops [to rally],” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “Then in the fourth quarter, we couldn’t make a shot anymore.”

Memphis didn’t have an answer for Duncan in the second half. He scored 13 of his points after the half as the Spurs opened a nine-game road trip with a win, their fifth straight. The Grizzlies led 73-67 entering the final period, but missed their first nine shots to allow the Spurs to recover and take an 87-81 lead with 1:18 to go.

Duncan also had two key blocks in the closing minute as the Spurs clung to an 87-84 lead. He first blocked Gay’s layup attempt with 32 seconds left and followed with a block of Gasol’s close-range attempt 10 seconds later.

“He is somebody who is pretty special,” Popovich said. “The blocks were pretty good down the stretch. Those kinds of things are what he does.”

Parker said Duncan has been playing at a high level recently. It was Duncan’s second straight double-double. He had 13 points and 15 rebounds Saturday in a win over Oklahoma City.

“He’s feeling good,” Parker said. “His knee is doing well. Hopefully, he can stay like that. That’s a great game from Timmy — 19 [points] and 17 [rebounds].”

The Grizzlies trailed by 13 at 61-48 early in the third quarter, but rallied behind a 25-6 run to end the period. Memphis took its first lead of the second half, at 66-63, on O.J. Mayo’s 3-pointer with 2:11 to go in the third quarter.

Hitting five of seven 3-pointers in the first half, San Antonio led by as many as 14 late in the second quarter. Matt Bonner and Gary Neal connected on two 3-pointers apiece and Kawhi Leonard had the other.
 

NBA Draft

Spurs’ Cory Joseph answers questions from the media Saturday June 25, 2011 at the Spurs practice facility. (San Antonio Express-News, Edward Ornelas)

When Cory Joseph announced that he would remain in the NBA Draft and forego his three remaining years at Texas, he left a lot of people scratching their heads.

“Hurts me to say this, but Cory Joseph could be on [the] D-League All-Rookie team next year,” said ESPN basketball analyst Fran Frasc hilla in early May, via his Twitter account.

But when the San Antonio Spurs picked him in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft with a No. 29 pick, it became clear that Joseph had made the right decision.

“I know the team is very close and it’s a great organization,” said Joseph at his introductory press conference Saturday in San Antonio. “I was very happy.”

In one season at Texas, Joseph mostly played two-guard, averaging 10 points and three assists a game. With the Spurs, he projects to be at the point (which is where he played in high school), in a back-up role behind Tony Parker.

It looks like the perfect fit. Before the draft, there were rumors that San Antonio was looking to trade starting point guard Tony Parker. On draft night, the Spurs instead traded backup point guard George Hill to Indiana, essentially opening the door for Joseph to get significant minutes behind Parker.

“He had a very good freshman year at Texas, we saw him a lot,” said Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford. “We think he has terrific defensive qualities, terrific Spurs qualities and was one of the best freshman guards in the country.”

At six-foot-three, Joseph has the size to succeed in the NBA. And with 41 percent behind the three-point line, he has the stroke, too. What worried some scouts was below-average speed for a point guard and a possible inability to create shots for himself. Despite what any other team thought, San Antonio had targeted him from day one.

“We knew the guy we were focused on was Cory,” Buford said. “To have that play out is exciting for us.”