On the disappearance of Tony Parker


Let’s say it straight right from the start: the Memphis Grizzlies have completely taken the Spurs out of their game. It isn’t that the Spurs are playing poorly, it’s that the Grizzlies are imposing poor play on the Spurs. Nowhere is this more obvious than the play of Tony Parker.

After Game 3, the Spurs were careful not to lay blame on one another. That is, except for one choice comment from Gregg Popovich. Popovich didn’t name names, but it’s clear Tony Parker was the intended recipient of this comment:

A lot of what a point guard does is decision making. They play boxes and elbows, so they have to adjust to that. We didn’t do a very good job of that. In the third quarter, we had seven turnovers; that was a killer. We played hard for the 24 minutes in the third and fourth quarters but not necessarily well (in the first half). We played hard enough to win a game in the second half. Unfortunately for the first 24 (minutes), we just went through the paces, while they were out there playing their (butts) off.

Tony Parker may have finished Game 4 on 9-12 shooting for 23 points, but that hardly mattered. Parker also finished with 7 turnovers. The Spurs coughed the ball up 17 times in total, leading to 20 points off turnovers for Memphis.

The Grizzlies won by 18 points.

Mike Conley, Parker’s counterpoint, scored 15 points and added seven assists. Conley finished the game with one turnover. With Mike Conley so thoroughly outplaying one of the Spurs’ Big 3, it’s difficult to imagine a positive outcome to the series for the Spurs.

Give Memphis credit, which they deserve ten times over, for forcing San Antonio into turnovers. It’s hard to describe Memphis’ defense, except to say it’s an incredible bother and lovely to watch. The Grizzlies play defense like the Spurs would like to. Tough. Physical. Disciplined. Passionate. The Grizzlies clog the lane and swarm the ball. Watching Tony Parker survive the Grizzlies is like watching a China Cabinet survive an earthquake. It’s inevitable. Stuff goes sideways.

Simply put, when the Grizzlies D-Up, Tony Parker doesn’t know what to do.

It’s not just that Parker turned the ball over. Parker’s passes were rarely on target. The Spurs’ offense has struggled enough of late, and Parker’s play has certainly not helped them right their ship. Parker’s passes were either behind his teammates, too high, too late, too low or too difficult. The Spurs’ starting point guard finished the game with a single assist. Tony Parker has yet to turn in a quality performance against the Grizzlies.

It’s not hyperbole to say the Spurs are in a crisis moment, and not just for the balance of their season. This is a watershed moment for the franchise. The 61 win Spurs are getting dominated by the 8th seeded Grizzlies.

  • TJ

    I thought we played decent in the paint on defense. It just seemed the Grizzlies get wide open mid-range jumpers over and over again.

  • Bruno

    Hill/RJ defense were horrible

  • Nima K.

    Conley is the 2007 4th overall pick after all. No surprises.

  • Hobson13

    Well. it’s time to face the music. The Spurs simply fell apart somewhere after the Allstar break and things just went from bad to worse to terrible. Even before the 6 game slide, we weren’t playing good ball, but that slide, in which we lost in every manner possible, really forced the team to doubt themselves. After that, it was all down hill. We’ve really regressed over the past month. IMO, the Spurs of just a year ago would have found a way to win the first 3 games of the series. Instead, true to late season form, we choked and executed like a rookie team in the last two minutes.

    I don’t blame the Spurs for this loss. I knew at halftime when we were shooting almost 60% and only up 2 that we were cooked. Duncan looks like he’s aged 10 years in the last month, Parker looks slow, Manu received his annual post season injury (except one game early), and the 3pt shooters (Bonner, Neal) have been terrible. I’m not saying Splitter would have been the second coming of Hakeem, but it was foolish to play Bonner/Blair instead of developing a 7-footer that EVERYONE knew we would need in April and May. It’s time to look to next year.

    Here are the facts as I see them:
    1. If you look back at the past two years and forward to the next several years, 2010-2011 will be seen as the highwater mark. In other words, this was the last/best chance at #5.
    2. We have some decisions to make regarding our “Big 3”. We either keep everyone and die a slow painful death, get lucky and find a Derek Rose or Blake Griffin in the draft, or look to trade someone. We can’t go into next season with the same core unless we are content with the 6th seed and a 1st round exit.
    3. Here’s my question: with a lockout virtually inevitable and with almost no chance at #5, does a 35 year old Duncan hang it up? I wouldn’t have posed this question 6 weeks ago, but I think it’s a real possibility now.
    4. Another question to ponder: Parker is obviously losing his speed (just like I said he would for the past two years) so do we trade him plus Blair to get a couple of good pieces. Perhaps it’s too early to ask this question, but make no mistake, it will be brought up early and often.

  • Len

    The problem is that this Spurs team is under contract, except Dice. Change isn’t something that can happen over one summer. Too many contracts for too many years. Need I remind anybody that RJ, Bonner and Tony are signed for a respective 3, 3 & 4 years after this year. Manu has two more years (which incidentally is probably the best contract for any vet on SA). Timmy has only one more year and then the inevitable problem of what the heck to do with him next summer.

    The Spurs basically went all in the last two summers and ended up drawing dead. RC has himself one heck of a puzzle to put together the next couple years if the Spurs have any chance of maintaining their standard of excellence.

  • Hobson13

    Mike Conley is a nice young player, but he’s really not that special. The guy averaged 13.7 ppg and 6.5 assts during the regular season. Nice numbers, but not anywhere near elite status. I believe this series says more about Parker than it does about Conley. IMO, his future doesn’t look too bright.

  • Bruno

    1- Agree
    2- D Rose, are u crazy?? D.Rose would be worse than Parker in Spurs system, D.Rose can’t play in a team without defense.
    3- Probably
    4- If we can take a guy like Stephen Curry+someone for Parker, would be great

  • Bruno

    But this season Horry innactive contract expires, Spurs will have more Cap, right?

  • DBAGuy

    Amazing how now everyone is starting to say what we have been saying all along. That this team wasn’t going anywhere because they don’t play defense. That Bonner would disappear in the playoffs, that Blair is a liability on both sides of the court. That RJ, even though he played well this series is a mediocre player at least on this system. That we have no real shooters who can get their own shots. That Timmy’s time has come and gone, he is simply to slow and old. Tony is not a good shooter, specially when he can’t get to the paint, is a ball hog, cant’t create for his teammates, cant shoot the 3, and was a turnover machine. Manu played really well, but has shown to be a guarantee injury year after year, when was the last time this guy was healthy during the playoffs? Neal/Hill who knows, these guys look more lost than freaking sand in a dessert.

    This lineup will not get us anywhere for a few years and I really don’t see how are going to be able to shake the team up. We need some athletic guys, even if they are not so much “character” guys but can play ball.

    Incredible that Tony Parker is still saying is nothing they did, we just missed shots, what? Man up!!! Too little to late to show up!! If you call that a show with 7 turnovers.

    They played all 4 games without any urgency, these players have been there and don’t look hungry, so we need to get guys who give a damn and want to compete, please don’t say they competed. BS, in the end of third quarter/start of fourth, they weren’t even going after shooters, completely demoralized.

    Now all the people who were saying crap about all the “sky is falling people”, can see that in fact the sky was falling, and BAM it hit you right in the head.

    I love our Spurs, but this has been the most pathetic post-season effort by our guys yet. Sad, very very sad.

    PS: Tiago played relatively well, wish Pop had prepped this guy more throughout the season. Bonner needs to get a job at Subway.

  • TD BestEVER

    I hate to play the I told you so cards……..But I have been saying this for years about TP not being all that good…… and more of a good system, he has never been a good assist man, and Bowen covered up his poor Defense for years……..Bonner has ALWAYS and will ALWAYS choke come playoff time……… Also the clamor for Splitter albeit the correct call to bring in the 7ft player……. The people who clamored for him were asking for the wrong player to be benched……… It should have been Bonner……. and that+POP being an IDIOT has cost us more than we will ever know……..Bonner should ask POP to put him in his will next……So he can get the final bit of his inheritance………

    But all and all we really can’t trade Blair……. he is too young and too cheap……for 1$ dollars who in the hell are we gonna bring in to play better……..And now that everyone has seen TP fade who wants him…….. We are stuck for the next 2-3 years…….. all because our FO is a bunch of scared LOSERS……….. The teams that made trades are looking good……… Memphis, Boston, OKC…….. all good teams that got better after trades…

  • Lvmainman

    Agree that not benching Blair and letting Splitter start instead of McDyess was dumb. Also not developing Anderson was dumb as well, because Hill/Neal can’t guard Allen, Young, Mayo, or Battier!!

    1. I think a move (basically playing athletic rookies) could improve the Spurs chances.

    2. I’d still trade Parker, Jefferson, Blair for Chris Paul and Emeka Okafor if possible. Maybe commisioner David Stern will force that trade to help the Spurs.

    3. Duncan will be back.

    4. Parker, Jefferson, Blair, Bonner, should all be on the trading block. Spurs need to look at signing/trading for a defensive wing like Shane Battier, Grant Hill, Tayshun Prince, Nicholas Batum.

    Getting a shot blocker and a defensive wing by the GM would give the Spurs a chance next year. But, Popovich’s refusal to play rookies (Splitter and Anderson) is shameful. Why is Daniel Green dressed instead of James Anderson???

  • Hobson13

    Bruno, I was just throwing out examples. Don’t take me literally on that. No way we get a Derek Rose caliber player.

  • Hobson13

    I agree 100%. I RARELY play the “I told you so” card myself, but I (and many others like yourself) was 110% right. We needed Splitter to be a contributor. Not Bonner. Regarding your Blair comment, you are probably right. His rookie contract is peanuts. Who knows, maybe he can develop into something more than Malik Rose 2.0.

  • Hobson13

    Right on. Some of us who could see things for what they were (not what we wanted them to be) saw that the 2010-2011 version of the Spurs was highly flawed. No defense, lack of another 7 footer, no elite perimeter defender, Bonner would choke, 3pters may not fall in the playoffs…..the list goes on. Pretty much EVERY flaw that some of us harped on has converged to end our season at the hands of an 8th seeded team. Where are all these Pollyanna’s now?

  • Hassan

    What???Horry has been gone for some time dude…

  • DBAGuy

    Agree with keeping Blair since he isn’t too expensive, hopefully he can develop to be half a Randolph someday. He needs to chill and develop an offensive game, and stop gambling so much on defense trying to steal the ball.

  • Hassan

    Agree with some of what you wrote…but

    1- Agree on #1.

    2- If NO does that trade the other owners will Probably shut the league down for coersion… but
    we should try for that or other such trades. I would even be willing to take on Mona Ellis for
    RJ if we involve the clippers who need a SF and they may take RJ off our hands if they fail to
    sign Tayshaun Prince of Detroit.

    3- I agree on # 3.

    4- Agree on #4

    Now JA I disagree about as he was injured then really looked out of shape and slow even when he returned.. I agree with POP on that….

    Well It’s going to be interesting what happens next….

  • NYC

    Wow. Wow.
    I’ve never seen so many guys jerk each other off as in the comments under this article at the time of my posting. Congratulations: you would rather say “I told you so” then to struggle and pound the rock. Adversity brings out one’s true nature, and you sound like Lakers fans. No one ever gets better through unbroken success. People only get better having failed. Did you really think we were guaranteed victory this or any other season? If so, you have clearly never struggled through adversity to taste success. Winners are the ones that continue to pound the rock having failed, and failed, and failed, and failed again… “I told you so” is the consolation prize for those who easily give up.

    Enjoy the rest of the season, fellas. You have at least one more chance to declare “I told you so.”

  • Bruno

    Yes, but Horry still have a 7 mil contract with Spurs, but is inactive, look http://www.shamsports.com/content/pages/data/salaries/spurs.jsp

  • TD BestEVER

    Problem isn’t us jerking ourselves off…..It’s those who didn’t listen to COMMON SENSE………..Those who ignored the masses and thought that everything POP/FO touched turned into gold and would just work……….I don’t remember if you are one of those or not, but you should be more upset at them…….They are the 1’s who have robbed us of our chance and number 5…….

    And as far as failure…..we have had plenty…………that’s why this season is so Bittersweet……….this will probably our last good shot at number 5 for quite sometime, and I and other have to just sit here and watch it pass by…….just because people have no idea what they are doing………

    So you and others can enjoy the lack of success 61 wins bring you and hopefully learn that this blogs, the media, and the fans matter………. We made enough of a fuss to get Splitter in the game…..had you and others given it more support, we might have gotten our trade and would still be living the dream instead of waiting to Crash and Burn……….

    Funny how people can never admit they are wrong and want to turn it around on others………All of the “In POP I trust” fans now…… The “Best Record in the NBA” people……. the “Mid-season trades DON’T work” people now……..The people who gloated during the regular season about TP and how much he meant to the team…… The people who called for me and others to be exiled or banned for saying what WE ALL NEEDED TO HEAR but wouldn’t like……..

    What could have been………

  • NYC

    To answer your question, Hobson, this “Pollyanna” is right here. And I’ll be here next season. And the season after that rooting for my team regardless if they win a championship.

    Never once did I think we were guaranteed victory if we just signed/traded for some magical player or made some magical substitution which, evidently, you and your disciples alone are wise enough to see. Though this season was promising, it was never promised it would be the magical blow to crumble the stone–even if your trades and rotations had been implemented. If such a promise could exist, it would render victory hollow.

    If we fail this time, then I’ll be back to watch the Spurs try again with the next blow… because I don’t follow sports to watch a team win, I follow to watch them struggle and persevere. I don’t watch the Spurs because they’re the winningest team of the last decade; they are not. That honor belongs to LA. I choose to follow the Spurs because, as far as I know, they are the only organization who does not preach winning but, rather, the act of pounding the rock. And for as long as they hold true and are willing to pound that rock, I will enjoy rooting for this team.

    Your Pollyanna is right here and, win or lose, I ain’t fixin’ to go nowhere.

  • Nima K.

    Failure only has value when it is followed by an attempt at improving oneself and learning from mistakes. Not trying to repeat the same mistake again and again, thinking it might yield result the next time. “Pounding the rock” isnt enough. You have to see where youre pounding. Without this mental and smarts component, you might as well be pounding yourself down into a hole.

    We made mistakes, and we failed to correct them. Others saw our system, emulated it, saw our weaknesses, but we didnt adjust accordingly. And that’s just being plain stupid.

  • NYC

    Now hold on a second, TDBE.
    I appreciate your passion and I have never called for you to be banned. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything you say, of course, but I wouldn’t take away your voice and your right to hold your opinion.

    And as far as In Pop We Trust and all that, you should know that ain’t me. There are times I will agree wholly with the wisdom of the Spurs brain trust, and there are times I have my criticisms as well. All things considered, I do believe we have been fortunate as fans to have one of the better run organizations out there and one of the winningest. So really we don’t have so much to complain about. Imagine being a Clippers fan. Imagine being a Dodgers fan. (Different sport, I know. But it illustrates my point.) So I guess I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt more often than not. It doesn’t mean I agree with every decision they make.

    Let’s not forget they are human, after all, and if they could go back in time, they themselves might like to do certain things differently. But in principle I like the even-keel, blue-collared workmanlike nature of this organization. I like that they don’t give in to panic and don’t look for magic cure-alls. They chart a course, and they have the cajones to stay the course even when things don’t fall in place. How many organizations have the patience and character to do that? (I’ll tell you who doesn’t: Mark Cuban and his ponies. And they wonder why they always end up the bridesmaid, never the bride.)

    I share your disappointment. Believe me I do. (I may still be in the denial phase.) But I also believe that even if decisions were made exactly the way you wanted them, or exactly the way I or anyone in particular wanted them, there was never a guarantee we would prove to be the last team standing. In the end, I only came to watch the struggle. As long as they fought a good fight, I can live with or without the ring.

  • NYC

    “Failure only has value when it is followed by an attempt at improving oneself and learning from mistakes.”

    I agree wholly with that.

    But let’s give the Spurs brain trust some credit too. They did manage to do some things right–61 wins, for example–working with what they got. I think we are all in shock right now and extremely disappointed. I feel it too. I mean, we’re the number-f.ing-one seed. HOw in the hell are we getting upset by the 8th seed in the midst of a 61 win season….???…..ok, ok let’s not go down that road. Goddamnit.

    I was saying: we’re all bummed right now, but there’s no reason to believe that this group of very smart men who have proven to be successful in the past won’t learn from this season’s mistakes and are doomed evermore. They won’t make any radical changes, it’s not in their character, but we should expect to see improvements stemming from lessons learned.

    Look, Popovich went away from the defense oriented teams of the past this season. It was a risky gamble which seems to have failed in the post season. OK. But it shows he is capable of changing his stripes. He did play Tiago in game 4. Much too late… I agree. But it isn’t accurate to say they are incapable of change altogether.

    I don’t believe we can write off next season or the future… that’s selling this organization short. Although I do resign myself to the impending end of this season. Sigh.

  • Nima K.

    Lets hope for the best then. We’ll see what happens on Wednesday.

  • DBAGUy

    Well there lies the problem, it isn’t much of a fight. They have getting left and right and mostly because Of personnel. We have not changed our offense at all from game to game. Look at Memphis, they cut, they fight for rebounds, they shoot well, some games in an inside game, others outside, they are mixing it up, and we did nothing. It has nothing to do with pounding the rock, thy is fine for a rookie team, not ow thy I trying to get a ring for Timmy. This is a pretty veteran team, Timmy, Tony, Manu, rj, mcdyess have all been around a long time so it isn’t about pounding the rock, it comes down to talent to compete which we so not have.

    And yes, it doesn’t hurt as much because some of us knew we weren’t going anywhere. Now the next phase of the spurs can start to pound that rock. If we are jerking each other for stating the facts, then you and the rest are also but not seeing the truth.

    Heck, even team even Minnesota and Cavaliers have fans that may be saying the same thing, I believe, I believe, yeah right believe has nothing to so with it. It’s skills.

  • Chris

    If Spurs bow out to Memphis (history dictates that once down 3-1, or worse, Spurs fold it in), it will be interesting to see the offseason roster moves. I think a MAJOR shakeup is in order. I’d trade RJ for a bag of chips. Heck, perhaps Parker should even be on the trading block? Spurs need a major re-vamp. The last two years has made that obvious. Spurs used to be able to adjust to the matchups, but not anymore.

  • Doggydogworld

    Horry doesn’t count against the cap.

  • Doggydogworld

    Who would have ever thought you could shut down the Spurs by focusing on Tony Parker’s PASSING? But that’s what the Grizz have done. They sag in and wait for Tony to penetrate, but instead of trying to stop his penetration they block his passing lanes. When help defenders fully commit to contesting Parker’s shot they leave our 3 point shooters wide open, and Tony exploited that all year. But Memphis’s help defenders do not commit to Tony and get themselves off balance. They keep their hands in the passing lanes but are always ready to sprint to the arc. Whenever Tony does manage to get a pass through all those arms and legs it’s generally off target enough that their defenders have time to close out.

    Only when Tony goes all the way to the rim does the help commit, and that’s typically a big like Gasol who doesn’t have to cover the arc. The pull-up jumper and floater are there for Tony if he wants them, but this new defensive style has him confused and unable to get his teammates involved. He’s never seen it before and he’s not a good enough natural passer to instinctively defeat it.

    Hill and Neal aren’t good enough passers to do anything against this D, either. Our only elite passer is Manu, so Pop has him run the offense some. That works for a while but you can’t do it all game, and it tends to remove Tony from the offense which was Memphis’s goal in the first place. So unless Tony solves this defense overnight it’s curtains for the Spurs. Great coaching by Hollins.

  • BlaseE