San Antonio Spurs 94, Washington Wizards 80: Tony Parker, point guard extraordinaire

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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.

  • spursfanbayarea

    Good analysis. Great game by parker. Lets hope he can play with the same efficiency tuesday.

  • Bruno

    What team in NBA have two guards so good like us???Ginobili on fire for 3!!#gospursgo

  • irongiantkc

    Tony Parker is almost never mentioned as one of the best PGs in the league. “He doesn’t have enough assists. He looks to score too often. Anybody could be the PG for Many and Timmy.” I have even read that Tony is lucky to have been on so many championship teams with Tim Duncan. That’s like saying Pippen was lucky to have been on the same team as Jordan. And, yes, I just compared Duncan/Parker to Jordan/Pippen. I think it’s legitimate. It’s also legitimate to say that Jordan was lucky to have Pippen for all those years. Remember all the trade rumors for Pippen? And Duncan was/is lucky to have Tony for all these years. Remember all the trade rumors for Tony?

  • irongiantkc

    btw, has any one else noticed that ESPN’s article on the greatest trios of all time gives almost no love to Duncan/Parker/Ginobili?

    Not too surprising I guess.

  • irongiantkc

    Also, Bill Simmon’s -The Book of Basketball- has an interesting What If section on What If The Spurs had traded away Tony for Jason Kidd? I remember being so disappointed that we didn’t get Kidd. It is Simmon’s take that the Surs win at least two less championships with the ball-and-limelight hogging Kidd than with Parker.

    Here’s hoping that the seemingly ever humble Parker can help the rest of the team bring home one or two more rings.

  • Grump

    Tony Parker thus far is having a, well, Tony Parker type of year. He’s giving the Spurs what they expect out of him only now with a little better court leadership. But, I five questions I think should be answer in the next two weeks.

    5. Will Pop stay with the hot shooting of Neal in these tough upcoming match-ups with the Lakers, Mavs, and Celtics or will he come back with George Hill?

    4. Will Chris Quinn continue to back up Parker at the point guard position or once again, will Pop continue with Hill’s experiment at the point.

    3. Jefferson was hot at the start of the season, shooting well, hustling for lose balls, taking charges, but as of late he’s faded away most games. Is this temporary or will we see Jefferson stop it up once the going gets tough?

    2. DeJuan Blair is a beast on the boards and his energy and hustle at times make up for his lack of size at the center position. But, lets face reality; when Dallas came to town last month Dirk Nowitzki
    shot 12 for 14 while Tyson Chandler maned the paint. Moreover, when Duncan is battling with Chandler, Bynum or Oneal Pop needs someone long enough to stay with Dirk, Gasol, and Garnet. Splitter is the answer. Is Pop ready to insert Splitter in the starting lineup?

    1. I really like the Spurs pushing the ball up the court this year. I think you can point to that as the biggest reason for there early success this season. But we know come playoff time teams will be more physical and play at a slower tempo. I’m concerned we don’t have that savvy veteran big man that can sub in for short spurts and lay some hard fouls when needed; like what Jerome Kersey, Kevin Willis, and Robert Horry used to provide for the Spurs. Will the Spurs go after someone that can fill that role?

  • Kintaro

    Guys like Kidd, CP3, and Nash require alot of time with the ball to work their magic, and while we wouldn’t be bad with these guys, we would certainly be quite different. I’m definitely glad we stuck with Parker, he’s a great fit with the Spurs system. The only other PG’s I can see running our offense would be Deron Williams and perhaps Rondo.

  • irongiantkc

    DW and Rondo are great suggestions and they both have youth on their side. Although isn’t TP only 28? It seems like he’s been with the Spurs forever.

    btw, I’m not saying TP’s better than those other guys, just that he deserves to be in the conversation.

  • betsyduncan

    When Tony’s at the top of his game, I don’t think that there are any better. I sometimes get frustrated when he (stubbornly) goes to the hole against the better defenders. But his kick-outs have vastly improved–as has his game. I am so glad we have him, simply because he IS such a good fit.

  • The Beat Counselor

    What a game by Parker, against one of my favorite defensive PGs in Hinrich no less. Parker doesn’t get enough love from the media or from Spurs fans for that matter (can’t say I’m not entirely guilt-free here). His assist and steal numbers are higher than ever, he’s judiciously hitting the 3ball and he’s having a career year. Kudos to the NBA for naming Tony Western Conference Player of the Week last week when Ginobili’s two late game spectacles made Manu perhaps a more obvious choice.

    Speaking of Manu (and maybe Scott Sereday could help us out here) there has been something I’ve been noticing but have been afraid to bring up.

    Am I imagining things or was yesterday the first time Manu has driven into the lane with the ball, in traffic since the game against the Bucks where Bogut was dominating the paint? He did it once yesterday and was blocked. If my observations and memory are correct (I’ve watched every game this year at least once although I was a little distracted when we played the Warriors in Oakland), then that means that he didn’t do any dribble penetration in 5 full games (Dec 15-Dec 25). He’s hit two game winners during that time, took the charge on Carmelo and has hit an array of step backs and lit it up from outside yesterday, but still…I’m curious. Is he banged up and playing cautious? If he is banged up, why is he still playing such heavy minutes and why would Pop reinsert him into the line-up late in the 4th yesterday when we were comfortably in the lead?

    He had been very successful this year driving to the basket and finishing with his left hand (finishing with a layup of floater) until that Bucks game where Bogut blocked him multiple times. I think maybe the game before that he had a drive where he finished with his right hand. Maybe it’s about keeping things unpredictable?

    Anybody else notice? Hopefully I’m just trippin’.

    Beat LA.

  • Flavor

    @ The Beat Counselor… I’ve noticed that too… now that you mention it…

    If he is banged up, he might be keeping it from the staff, cause you know he wouldn’t be playing if they new…

  • Francesco

    GARY NEAL
    it was the Wizards, yes, but game after game Neal is proving he belongs and (more importantly) he fits with us. He may play very little in the post season, but his presence will greatly help to preserve Manu.

    DUNCAN
    once again: he cannot get the job done from the low post anymore.
    – yes, I mean on offence
    – yes, I have watched all games
    – yes I played basketball
    – yes, I consider Duncan one of the greatest ever
    – no, it is not because the offense has changed
    the offence HAD to change because Duncan is not a threat from the low block anymore.

    The loss to Orlando was predictable and acceptable: let’s see how we fare the next few games against the elite

  • Tobias

    Tony Parker 17 May 1982 (1982-05-17) (age 28)
    Deron Williams June 26, 1984 (1984-06-26) (age 26)
    Chris Paul May 6, 1985 (1985-05-06) (age 25)
    Rajon Rondo February 22, 1986 (1986-02-22) (age 24)
    Steve Nash 7 February 1974 (1974-02-07) (age 36)
    Jason Kidd March 23, 1973 (1973-03-23) (age 37)
    Derek Fisher August 9, 1974 (1974-08-09) (age 36)Chauncey Billups September 25, 1976 (1976-09-25) (age 34)
    I am really feed up of hearing that TP is old.I hope that his performance and this list, specially his performances help to dispel that notion forever.

  • NYC

    I remember all the trade Parker talk taking place this time last year. We haven’t had a peep of that this year. Winning truly cures all ills.

  • Flavor

    Tony Parker is TOP 5. My list goes: Paul, Williams, Rondo, Rose, Parker, Nash/Kidd tied for 6.

    @ Francesco:

    I disagree. Duncan’s line this season so far:
    9.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 2 BPG, 13.6 PPG all @ 28.9 MPG. I disagree…

    Add to the fact, that I’ve still seen Tim draw the double team many, many, times this season, I think other teams still think he can get it done…

  • jwalt

    francesco — I agree with your analysis. I think one of the “tough decisions” that the coaching staff made over the summer was that Duncan’s touches in the post had to come down. I have written before, Duncan has gone from a great low post scorer to a good one and to now only so so. The last 2 seasons were spent with Tim still the first option, and the team suffered because of it.

    None of this means that he is any less valuable, his defense, rebounding, intelligence, and leadership are all simply wonderful. But he’s no longer a low post beast, and the team after a couple of painful seasons has come to the that conclusion.

    Not so minor note, it sure is GREAT to have Hill back. I think he makes Parker and Manu both better players, because he takes on the opposite team’s best offensive guard, whether that is a point or shooting guard. He’s the fourth most valuable player on the team, at worst.

    And lastly, yes, Manu is driving the ball much less this season. And I’m all for it, he has a better chance of entering the playoffs in good shape as a result. He actually now plays like there is a tomorrow. For all Manu lovers, it might not be as much fun as a few seasons ago, but he wants to be well in April, May, and June.

  • Francesco

    @ Flavour and everyone else who keeps answering back with box sscores and empty stats:

    I’m talking about offence and more specifically about his ability to score (and therefore create offence) from the low post.

    If you watch games you notice how most of his points come via lay-ins, put-backs, jumpers, dunks.
    Last night he couldn’t score against HILTON ARMSTRONG…

  • Francesco

    @ NYC

    “I remember all the trade Parker talk taking place this time last year. We haven’t had a peep of that this year. Winning truly cures all ills”

    Winning doesn’t cure ills, it hides them.

    We may have a shot at the title this year, maybe next, but by keeping our core intact we look at possibly relocating 10 years from now.

  • irongiantkc

    JWalt: Good point. I got really tired cringing every time Manu flung himself at the basket. Maybe that and the reduced minutes is why he’s stayed healthy this year.

    Francesco, did you just say that winning hides flaws like that’s a bad thing? Hey, if that’s the Spur’s “problem” then I hope we sneak all the way to the Finals cleverly hiding all of our weaknesses. In that way, we can settle for a shot at the Championship this year and maybe the next. I know, we’ll probably be mortgaging our future by foolishly keeping this core together but that’s the risk we’ll have to take. Perhaps we can get together a petition to get the FO and Pop fired for only thinking of ways to win with this core and not thinking of “relocating 10 years from now.”

  • Daniel T

    Isn’t it possible that winning can be used to hide strengths as much as weaknesses? The Spurs have traditionally not placed a great deal of emphasis on their record during the regular season. Last year that caused a problem in that they wound up with a low seed and just barely made the playoffs. So this year they felt it might be nice to get off to a better start, and it seems they have done that. But they have not done that at the expense of wearing out their key players.

    Manu is not driving to the basket as much so far this year, Tim is averaging less than 30 mpg while not battling it out so often in the low post, McDyess is averaging far fewer minutes, Tiago has been used sparingly, etc. If I’m not mistaken, for at least a few years now Tim has been taken a lower percentage of his shots during the regular season in the paint and then increases that as the playoffs come around. The same will likely happen for Manu’s drives to the basket, few now, but more as the playoffs approach.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs aren’t as usual playing some of their worst basketball of the season during the first few months, and will start getting serious as the playoffs approach. I expect they were hoping to improve their regular season record from 50 wins to 55+ wins. Right now that means going 31-21 the rest of the season after starting 24-6. That would seem to be within the realm of possibilities, depending upon what injuries may occur.

  • DorieStreet

    Tony won’t get mentioned among the top 5 PGs anymore because his game was tailored to support the Spurs’ inside-out game from our Twin Tower days thru when #21 was in his prime. Tony’s speed dribble coast-to-coast would get us that quick layup, either straight past feet-in-cement opponents or that Houdini reverse spin that left a big in the paint hanging. If the defense didn’t bite or defended the rim, he would pass out for the 3. Don’t forget his teardrop if his man hung with him–he did it better than Mark Jackson-that move was his trademark. But the Spurs’ offense, then & now, does not allow the PG to command the ball 70% of the time that comes with the P&R that is prevalent now in the league. Although efficient, Tony does not have the herky-jerky, Barry Sanders-type moves of Chris Paul; nor does he have the step-back/shoot from anywhere/trigger release of Deron Williams, nor the almost unlimited 3pt range of both. Tony does not have the body strength of Eric Gordon and Derrick Rose when they can continue to the basket after getting bumped and complete the basket (Tony gets his share–he just gets knocked down a lot more). I came to this blog last spring during the playoffs-the “trade Tony/Tony wants to leave the Spurs” talk went on well into the summer, almost as prevalent as the Melo-CP3-Amare rumors. Tony start with us way back in 2001; a lot of fans viewed his game as pedestrian compared to the ‘new guard’ that has shown up during the last five years of this decade. Father time and injuries has took a toll, but he has redidicated himself to get our team back into championship contention. I hope he can go major-inury free this year so he can play his best.

  • TD = BEST EVER

    @ Francesco

    I couldn’t disagree more – Timmy has lost a few steps but the difference between him this year and last year is touches and plays and shots………

    If Manu had to go ONEvONE with no screens and only got 9 attempts per game then he wouldn’t be very effective also. Same for Tony……. The TEAM is centered around guard play because that’s how POP wanted it to be. And as long as he wants it that way then NO Timmy will never be the same…….

    @ jwalt

    If you watched last 2 years the SPURS got OLD and they lost not because of Timmy but lack of quality ROLE Players………

    2008 – lost to Dallas – Manu wasn’t healthy – So that’s not Timmy fault
    2009 – RJ, Tony, and others wouldn’t take or make open jumpers against the SUNS while they were doubling Timmy the entire game – SO again, NOT TIMMY’s fault……… And no he hasn’t gotten that much worse in 6 months – the Offense although has CHANGED that much!!!

  • Tyler

    @Francesco

    “We may have a shot at the title this year, maybe next, but by keeping our core intact we look at possibly relocating 10 years from now.”

    Do you really have that little faith in our front office?

  • rob

    There is no problem with the Spurs backcourt this year. I would even venture to say that once Anderson is back the wing position will be in fairly decent shape.

    However, is it just me or is it that most are waiting to see some glimpse of consistency from the frontcourt?

    I am tetoring between “all will be fine” by the time playoffs role around OR “make some sort of trade” in order to bolster the frontcourt for the playoffs.

    All I have is to trust Pop and company to know and execute what will be best by that time in order for the Spurs to have a legit chance at winning another championship for this year.

    Faith is hard to rely upon when it is being made evident that it is the only thing to trust.

    But faith is what I’ll have. Go Spurs Go!!!

  • junierizzle

    I think the SPURS in general never really get the respect they deserve. Yeah people know they are good and that the Big 3 have won 3 rings. BUt it isn’t the same respect that Kobe and Gasol are getting for winning two rings.

    I think it’s because the Big 3 are foreign players. What do you guys think??

    I know the league has been very welcoming to foreign players but at the end of the day Americans want to praise Americans.

    It’s just a thought.

  • rob

    Great article at nba.com

    http://www.nba.com/2010/news/features/david_aldridge/12/27/morning-tip-san-antonio-spurs/index.html?ls=iref:nbahpt1

    Kind a sums up what many here have been saying but with the perspective of Pop.

    Looks as if Pop is not so sure either but definately wants a better defensive team by the time playoffs role around.

  • TD = BEST EVER

    @ Francesco

    “Winning doesn’t cure ills, it hides them.”

    So would you rather be loosing to prove that there is a Problem????

    “We may have a shot at the title this year, maybe next, but by keeping our core intact we look at possibly relocating 10 years from now.”

    LOL at this – its obvious that you have no Idea what you are talking about…….. Where would the SPURS go to…… There are about 10 other teams ahead of us in the relocation shuffle – and until they all find new cities we won’t even start looking….. plus there are but a few other cities that can support a NBA team…..

    The SPURS ill have plenty of time after Timmy is gone to be mediocre or rebuild around some young talent – But honestly W/O a franchise level player – and there are none on our roster besides TIMMY – they will only be a 7th or 8th seed every year………

    So would you rather be loosing?

  • Dingo

    Jawad Williams is back on the market. Maybe Danny ferry can convince pop to dump udoka for him. Not like udoka does much but setup others for huge dunks.

    Not that it would make a different in the big picture but he’s definitely younger..

  • Tim in Surrey

    Nice article, Andrew. I hope John Wall appreciates the lessons in how to play the point that he got from Tony: “Watch how easy it is for me to beat you in the open court with a crossover, John. See how effective that can be? Now here’s another move, a spin dribble. It’s better, isn’t it? You see, at the end of that move I was already in motion towards the basket. Gary Payton taught me that as a rookie. OK, let’s try another one and… Whoops! Ha ha. See what I did there? Look how happy George is–and we got three points from that play instead of the two I would’ve gotten with a contested shot inside. That what playing the point is all about.”

    That wasn’t a game. That was a clinic.

  • rob

    Nice Tim in Surrey…very nice.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com midwestfan

    timmy can still get it done, just look at the denver game where he man handled nene in the post with 28 and 16. coach pop and the spurs are the conserving him til the play offs , i bet he either is the leading or second scorer during playoff time

  • jwalt

    best ever — the offense has changed and the offense is better. Tim is getting less touches. Are the two mutually exclusive? You seem to think yes, I think the two go hand in hand.

  • Bankshot21

    Tim Duncan is as efficient as he’s has been in years past. Yes the offense is more potent with him getting less touches. That’s obvious. But do you notice his assist rate is up? He’s getting the same amount of assists as seasons past, but in less minutes. This means a lot of offense is still running through him. In the playoffs where the pace of the game slows down do you not think Timmy’s production is going to go back up? I’m not gonna say he’ll be back to his career averages but he’ll average more than the regular season. History shows us that he steps up his play when the games mean more. Furthermore if you check out the PER of our big 3 you will see Duncan is right up there. This isn’t by accident. He still commands the double and still makes it hard for opposing bigs to rotate off of when Tony,G.Hill,Manu or whomever is attacking the basket. This causes the wing defender to try to close there by leaving the much coveted wide open corner three.