No one needed to play more than 28 minutes for the San Antonio Spurs, but even that short amount of time was enough for Tony Parker to score 31 points, continue his MVP like NBA season and for the San Antonio Spurs to prove once again just how good they are when everyone is rested.
Still, the NBA playoffs aren’t the same thing – less time to give tired bones like Tim Duncan’s and Manu Ginobili’s rest, but regardless of the time between games, the Spurs prove against and again, and especially over the last month or so, that they’re playing the best basketball in the NBA.
Playing their 7th consecutive game on the road, the Spurs didn’t need too much minutes from anyone. It’s usually the Clippers this season who have been proud of their ability to rest starters while guys from the bench make the most of their opportunities, but the moment the difference hit 20 points and more in the third quarter, the benches of both teams started working overtime, in garbage time.
Tony’s been a huge part of us playing that well. He’s been the one who is most consistent. Everything kind of clicked together. We made a lot of shots. They just couldn’t get their footing. He’s really matured as a player. He just used to be a scoring point guard. Now there’s a whole new world out there. He’s a complete player.
Parker scored 31 points in 28 minutes of basketball, adding 7 assists and shooting an almost perfect 12-16 from the field while going 7-7 from the line. He’s been in amazing for of late, while the Spurs have gone 6-1 so far in their Rodeo road trip and winning 16 of their last 17 games. Parker is averaging 27.9 points, 9.1 assists during February while shooting 57.6% from the field. Those are MVP numbers, but not when they happen only for one month.
The Spurs played with three guards due to to Kawhi Leonard being unavailable. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter played in the front court, but Duncan played only 16 minutes and Splitter played in only 21. The Spurs simply didn’t need anyone to pull in a full shift. Danny Green scored 15 points, and the bench was led by Manu Ginobili with 10 points, as all 7 players played at least 11 minutes except for one, and all of them got in on the scoring in a 116-90 win.
For the Clippers? It was mostly humiliating – There’s going to be games where you feel like nothing’s going your way, so we need to get back to what made us successful against San Antonio. We’ve got to have a good practice tomorrow, go over our mistakes and bounce back against Utah on Saturday. They just beat us, beat us bad. Luckily, it wasn’t a Game 7 or our last game of the season. They came out and executed. Tony was in a rocking chair all night. We just let him go wherever he wanted to, and we never really could get going offensively. It’s a very humbling loss.
The bad news for the Clippers? This looked too much like the 2012 NBA playoffs, when the two teams met in the Western Conference semifinal. Chris Paul looked like anything but the best point guard in the NBA, and the Clippers struggled to turn the game into a track meet. The Spurs don’t mind fast pace, but when they’re leading the charge, with Tony Parker leading the way. This was only a win, as Parker said, not a championship, but it felt like a deceleration of intentions, and of quality gaps.