A tale of two halves for Tony Parker

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AT&T CENTER — Tony Parker dribbled around the man guarding him and got to the rim. He took a dribble hand-off and hit a fallaway jumper. He pushed the ball in transition. In the first half, Parker didn’t look like a man playing with a strained right hamstring. Parker finished the first two quarters of Game 4 with 15 points and six assists and looked the best he had all NBA Finals.

He also did this:

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Things came crashing back to Earth in the second half as the Miami Heat fine-tuned their defense and Parker possibly felt the effects of that strain. Parker went scoreless in the second half as he missed all four of his field goal attempts and had just three assists and the San Antonio Spurs dropped Game 4 of the Finals to the Miami Heat 109-93.

Parker may have been battling the hamstring strain, but the entire Spurs offense was hurting. The Heat held San Antonio to 44 points on 37 percent shooting in the second half and the Spurs were unable to move the ball as freely as they had in the first two quarters.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Parker said about his hamstring. “So the first three, four minutes I was testing it and the first half felt okay.

“And the second half I think I got fatigued a little bit.”

The second half of Game 4 eerily resembled the second half of Game 2 outside of the mammoth run the Heat put on the Spurs in Miami. Otherwise, the Heat played focused defense in cutting off the Spurs’ passing lanes and limiting the open shots on the perimeter.

A slow Parker likely helped the Miami cause.

“It was just fatigue. I just missed shots,” Parker said. “I missed two tear drops and the layup I was right there, couldn’t get my lift.

“I just missed easy shots, and hopefully I’ll get more healthy and I’ll be better by Sunday.”

The Spurs will need him to be better come Sunday. San Antonio’s offense just isn’t the ball movement monster we saw in Game 3 without Parker playing well. When the Heat limit Parker, the turnovers creep up (19 in Game 4) and the open 3s are harder to come by. San Antonio shot 16 3-pointers in Game 4 after converting that exact number in Game 3.

Parker has a couple of days to rest and the Spurs the same amount to adjust. That’s been the story of the series thus far. Not the lack of momentum carrying over from one game to the next, but each team’s adjustment from game-to-game. This time it’s San Antonio’s turn to force the issue, but it won’t have the desired effect if Tony Parker can’t lead the charge.