San Antonio Spurs 94, Washington Wizards 80: Tony Parker, point guard extraordinaire
AT&T CENTER — After the will he, won’t he uncertainty of John Wall’s playing status before the Spurs’ 94-80 win over the Washington Wizards, I was afraid I wouldn’t get my look at one of the exciting young point guards in the NBA. I was really hoping to get a glimpse of the future of the position.
Then Tony Parker walked out on the AT&T Center floor and put on a masterpiece from the point guard position, reminding everyone that the present is still pretty damn good too.
Parker scored 20 points, handed out 14 assists, one shy of his career-high, and grabbed six rebounds in the Spurs’ win.
Parker controlled the game throughout, with the touch and patience that a young player like Wall can only hope to learn. Parker masterfully balanced the need to move quick in the offense, while not making the mistake of rushing.
On one play in the first half, Parker brought the ball up court on fast break. Strolling down the middle of the floor at full speed on a 3-on-2, Parker was aware he had Gary Neal streaking down the floor on his right side. Parker gave a slight look to the left side and then hit Neal with a bounce pass on the right for an easy layup. Parker had the play executed three steps before, though.
“Tony ran the show tonight. He was the guy,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.
Parker had only three turnovers in his 35 minutes of play against Washington. Wall, who had missed the previous five games with a bone bruise in his right knee, finished with four turnovers in just under 20 minutes.
This is not to give the appearance the this game between the Spurs and Wizards was a matchup of Wall and Parker. This is simply a reflection on what Wall can be — yet much, much better — if he is developed and groomed like Parker.
Wall shows much of the quickness and speed Parker possesses, except with the explosiveness few in this league have. At the end of the first half, Wall subbed into the game and took the in-bounds pass from near 3/4 court with 5.8 seconds left and streaked all the way to the hoop for a layup, leaving still 2.4 seconds left on the clock. He even made sure to wrap the ball around his back to keep it away from a defending Manu Ginobili. It was a scintillating mix of Parker and Ginobili shown by the young point guard. Frankly, no description I give you can do the play justice.
On the final play of the third quarter, the Wizards were in-bounding the ball again on the far end of the court. The Spurs, though, had learned their lesson and on the in-bounds had two defenders blanketing Wall, keeping the ball out of his hands. Washington was forced to throw the ball in to Rashard Lewis who dribbled up the floor and missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
But where Tony Parker excels and many of the league’s point guards don’t, is his efficiency on the floor. Fortunate enough to be in his tenth season in the same system, there is no wasted movement from Parker. He knows where the ball is supposed to go several passes before it gets there. Parker doesn’t take an extra step where he doesn’t need to and every movement seems to be with a purpose in mind.
Piloting an offense that assisted on 27 of its 37 field goals and is off to a franchise-best 26-4 record, Tony Parker is leading a charge that young point guards in the NBA should take notice of.